LAFAYETTE — The Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball team’s final step in its quest for a championship features a Sunday meeting with seven saints from Siena.
The Siena Saints (22-12), from Loudonville, New York, will enter Earl K. Long Gym for the Women’s Basketball Invitational championship game at 4 p.m. They have seven players who see time on the court.
“They play tough,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said. “They are not the most athletic team, but they play as a team and they never really quit. That’s important. It’s hard to find teams like that. When you go from nine wins to 22 wins, they seem to fight for each other.”
Seniors Tehresa Coles and Ida Krogh have been key to that 13-win transformation. Coles is the team’s leading scorer at 13.2 points per game. She is an 83 percent free throw shooter (128-of-154).
The Saints have made major gains against opponents at the line. They have made 510 free throws, and their opponents have attempted 473.
“Their offense is predicated on screening and taking the ball to the goal,” Brodhead said. “It makes them tough to guard. They might try to create a foul (on drives).”
The Cajuns (22-12) have had their own success — especially late in games recently — during their run to the championship round. Guard Jaylyn Gordon’s 3-pointer provided the winning points against McNeese State last weekend before Simone Fields converted a three-point play with 18 seconds left in a comeback victory Thursday over Oral Roberts. “You see a lot of other games where people don’t get shots off or they get bad shots at the end,” Brodhead said. “We have been in those situations and have been creating opportunities to win.”
For Cajuns senior guard Robbie Brown, the chance for a win in her final college game is more motivation than an actual trophy.
“Not too many teams get to finish with a win,” Brown said. “Only three teams ... and to be one of those three teams would put us on the map and let people know where we are at. We just want to win and be able to say we did this.”
Fields, a freshman from San Antonio, has hit her stride during the past handful of games. That included holding 6-foot-7 Oral Roberts center Vicky McIntyre to seven points in that win.
“Somehow, Simone held (McIntyre) under her season average,” Brown said. “She was all over the floor. She found a way to score. We know what she can do, and she showed the fans what she is capable of doing.”
The Cajuns have been capable defenders throughout the season: They have four guards with 40 or more steals, and Kia Wilridge leads the pack with 95. Keke Veal is the squad’s leading scorer at 14.8 points, which includes a career-high 29 in the McNeese win.
For juniors such as Wilridge and Veal, a championship would be a high point.
“This game means a lot,” Wilridge said. “The last three years, we have dealt with injuries. We still have injuries, but we have been able to play together and produce. It’s just about us improving.”