LAFAYETTE — Holding opponents to low shooting percentages and point totals has been a point of pride for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette women’s basketball team under coach Garry Brodhead.
Building on that foundation helped the Ragin’ Cajuns subdue the Dillard Bleu Devils 84-36 Saturday at the Cajundome.
The Cajuns made 75 percent of their shots (21-of-28) in a 50-point first half.
“That started this summer,” Brodhead said. “We preached all last year that we could have won more if we could shoot the ball. We are getting the same shots we got last year — not a lot of difference. Because the kids dedicated themselves this summer and put up some shots, it creates so much more.”
That combination on both sides of the ball enabled the Cajuns to score the first 17 points before the Bleu Devils got on the board with 3:38 left in the first period on a free throw from Alena Evans. By the time the quarter ended, the Cajuns held a 24-3 advantage, and guard Kia Wilridge had nine points as part of a 10-for-13 team shooting effort. Wilridge’s first basket came on a pull-up jumper before she got to the rim a few times for layups throughout the opening 10 minutes. “It makes (defenders) think a little bit,” Wilridge said. “Always when you can shoot and drive, it makes it hard on a defense.”
The Cajuns (6-1) gradually increased their lead through the second period. When sophomore forward Simone Fields scored off the glass with 6:08 left in the first half, that put UL-Lafayette on top 35-7. The Bleu Devils managed to score 13 points in the second period, but the Cajuns doubled that output to take a 50-16 lead into the locker room.
“We had an opportunity to work on some of the things we need to in the halfcourt,” Brodhead said. “Maybe one of our weaknesses is some of our halfcourt offense, especially against a zone. I thought we moved the ball extremely well. We were able to rotate different lineups and work in our halfcourt man (defense), put pressure on the ball and give other people a chance to try to get better at defense.”
The Cajuns held Dillard to single digits in a period for the second time when the Bleu Devils had seven points in the third quarter. Jaylyn Gordon gave the Cajuns a 40-point cushion at 58-18 with just under seven minutes left. The lead ballooned to 45 by the end of the third.
The fourth period featured the first basket of the season for junior guard Sylvana Okde, who redshirted last year while recovering from knee surgery.
“I was open on the shot,” Okde said. “I didn’t want to just jack up the first shot I got, so I passed the first one up, and that one was wide open.”
It was two points and a fun moment for the Cajuns and Brodhead.
“Anytime somebody works hard and is so dedicated to the sport, you want them to be out there and do what they really love to do,” Brodhead said. “She is a great kid and the most recognized player on campus. Everybody knows her. It is her personality and her character.”
Four Cajuns finished in double figures. Wilridge led all scorers with 18 points. Gordon finished with 12. Gabby Alexander and Keke Veal each chipped in 11 points.
Evans led Dillard (5-6) with 13 points.
The Cajuns will complete their two-game homestand with an 11 a.m. contest Tuesday against UC-Santa Barbara.