LAFAYETTE — Despite being shorthanded on Saturday afternoon, the the University of Louisiana at Lafayette women’s basketball team was able to call upon defensive pressure to create a long afternoon for Sam Houston State.
The Cajuns, who were missing starter Jaylyn Gordon because of a concussion and played starter Keke Veal for only seven minutes (flu), forced 30 Sam Houston turnovers on the way to securing a 65-46 win at the Cajundome. The victory keeps the Cajuns undefeated at 5-0.
Junior guard Kia Wilridge had eight steals, which gave her a handful of transition scoring opportunities that contributed to her 16 points.
“We didn’t have Keke and Jay, but we weren’t coming in here to play around,” Wilridge said. “We came in here to take care of business.”
That full-court effort on defense led to Sam Houston getting only 15 field-goal attempts in the first half. The Bearkats converted five of those and trailed 28-11 at halftime.
“We created a lot of offense with our defense,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said. “We created 19 turnovers in the first half, and I think that was the difference in the game. They shot 15 times, and even if they make all 15, that’s still pretty good defense.”
The Bearkats scored their last points of the first half with 5:25 remaining when Taylor Dorsey converted a fast-break layup. Carrying over to the second half, the Cajuns outscored Sam Houston 23-2 during one stretch to grab a 41-13 advantage when Wilridge scored on a steal and a layup with 16 minutes left.
“It’s easier to play quick like that instead of playing 25 or 30 seconds of (half-court) defense,” Wilridge said.
The Bearkats started to find their shooting touch during the final 16 minutes, as Brodhead used a variety of lineup combinations with the absence of the two starters.
“I was worried about their guards,” Brodhead said. “They always get to the middle of the floor. I was concerned without Keke and Jaylyn — we had to rotate in a lot of people.”
Sophomore Gabby Alexander helped pick up the scoring slack by chipping in 14 points on a 7-for-14 effort from the field. Freshman guard Cienna Rodriguez canned a couple of 3-pointers and finished with eight points.
Dorsey led all scorers with 20 points. Guard Shernise Robertson was the only other double-figure scorer for Sam Houston, with 10 points.
The Cajuns will continue their three-game home-stand with a game next Saturday against Southern-New Orleans. The last game of the trio is a clash with Southeastern Conference opponent Mississippi State.
“Yeah, the kids are looking forward to Mississippi State,” Brodhead said. “Mississippi State is not going to take us lightly. I’m so glad for the kids to see them work hard and have this (5-0 record). It’s big.”
Wilridge did not have to look far for inspiration to think her teammates could get off to a good start this season.
“You look at a lot of other sports on campus, they are moving forward. Now, it’s us doing it.”