LAFAYETTE — To help combat the inside presence of Texas-Arlington’s 6-foot-5 center Rebekah VanDijk, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette women’s basketball team responded with a two-part formula of effort and an offensive boost from the bench.
Junior Taylor Washington scored a career-high 19 points, which included a 5-for-6 effort from 3-point range to help the UL-Lafayette women’s basketball team secure a 63-52 victory over UT-Arlington on Saturday at the Cajundome.
“(Washington) did a good job for us, especially in the first half, she looked very confident,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said. “To shoot 5-for-6 from the 3 is pretty big for us. It gives us another weapon to help Kia (Wilridge) and Keke (Veal) with their penetration. It’s exciting to see a kid come off the bench and do well.”
The Cajuns (15-4, 8-2 Sun Belt) did a lot of their damage in the fourth period, which enabled them to erase a Mavericks lead.
UTA was on top 48-47 with just under five minutes left when the Cajuns used a 3-point play by Veal to start an 11-0 run that put the Cajuns ahead 58-48 with 52 seconds left.
Within that scoring spurt, Veal rattled in a 3-pointer and converted a pair of free throws that came on the heels of a UTA technical foul.
The technical came in the final second of the shot clock. The Mavericks wanted a blocking foul called on the Cajuns, but the officials determined that the Mavs’ shot clock had expired before a foul call.
Veal’s fourth-quarter scoring was part of her 21-point effort that led all scorers.
“We were ready,” Veal said. “We had a great practice Friday, and we came in with the mindset that we can’t let any slip-ups like that (Thursday loss to Texas State) happen again.”
Washington gave the Cajuns 10 first-half points. She nailed her first 3-pointer with 1:43 left in the first quarter to give the Cajuns an 11-9 lead. Another 3-pointer, a fast break layup and a pull up jumper by Washington helped keep the Cajuns on top for much of the half.
VanDijk countered that scoring on the inside by putting up nine points on three field goals and three free throws through the first 20 minutes. The teams headed to the locker rooms even at 29-29.
VanDijk finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, but Brodhead credited the 38 minutes he got from sophomore Simone Fields defensively as being a big part of keeping VanDijk and the Mavs’ outside shooters a bit out of rhythm.
“(Fields) did a really good job to be able to play the 38 minutes,” Brodhead said. “That is the most she has played this year for us because she has always been in foul trouble. I thought she was patient on offense, too. She made some nice outlet passes. For her to fight and be able to stay in the game, I thought she made a big difference.”
Fields also made all eight of her free throws. The Cajuns converted 19-of-25 from the free-throw line. Fields was the other double-figure scorer for the Cajuns (10 points). The Mavericks (8-11, 3-6) received 11 points from Toma Zaleckaite, but the Cajuns limited UTA to three 3-pointers in eight attempts.
“We kept them off balance as best we could,” Brodhead said. It kind of took away from their shooting 3s. They are a pretty good shooting team. Our pressure on them kind of hurt them.”
The Cajuns will wrap up their five-game homestand Tuesday when they take on UL-Monroe at 5 p.m.