LAFAYETTE — It looked like the Cajuns were following the same script that led to an 0-3 start in Sun Belt Conference play judging by the first couple minutes of the Cajuns’ Thursday night matchup against Georgia State.
They missed six of their first seven shots to quickly fall into an 11-4 hole. The Cajuns were coming off three of their worst offensive performances of the season, and coach Gary Brodhead felt himself starting to wonder.
“Human nature is always, ‘Oh, here we go again, it’s five-nothing, we’ve missed a couple of shots,’” Brodhead said. “But I thought we had some good ones and they stayed the course.”
Did they ever. The Cajuns ripped off unanswered runs of eight and 11 points in the first half to surge ahead of Georgia State (7-6, 2-2) and they never look back in their 68-52 win.
“We’re a family, we always work through adversity,” Brodhead said. “… I couldn’t be prouder of these kids, they played hard and they’re continuing to want to win and build a program.”
As rough as the Cajuns start was, they got things going thanks to some sharp shooting by guard Jaylyn Gordon, who scored a game-high 20 points in the contest on 7-of-11 shooting. Six of her makes came from beyond the 3-point arc.
Kia Wilridge also added 18 for the Cajuns, and Robbie Brown scored 10 off the bench.
It was a bounce back performance both for Gordon, who was shooting just 19 percent from the floor in her last three games, and for her teammates, who had been held under 58 points in each of the last three games.
“Today we just knocked down (open shots) and built our confidence,” Gordon said.
The Cajuns helped themselves out by first knocking down open shots, allowing Brodhead to have the confidence to switch to a press defense that gave the Panthers fits.
The Cajuns forced 24 turnovers in the game and scored 28 points off those turnovers. On the flip side, the Cajuns only turned the ball over 11 times, and the Panthers were only able to score two points off those turnovers.
“That’s something that, if we’re making shots, we can create it,” Brodhead said. “Because we can press, we can press anybody in the league, I really believe that.”
“But you have to make shots to be able to press, and tonight we made some shots. It put us in a good position to make some steals and make some more shots.”
Now that the Cajuns have their first conference win under their belt – and the confidence that goes with it – Brodhead hopes his team can capitalize on the momentum.
“Four of our next five games are at home … and I think we can sneak one next week on the road (at Georgia Southern),” Brodhead said. “I think we can get a win on the road, come back and play three more over here and get it started.”