LAFAYETTE — When Louisiana-Lafayette freshman center Breionne Cooper hit a wall near the end of the third period against Southern-New Orleans on Thursday night, she made a layup and caused assistant coach Katherine Katz to yell encouragement.
The Ragin’ Cajuns women’s basketball team led Southern-New Orleans 68-19 at the time on the way to an 81-28 victory at Earl K. Long Gym. Cooper’s third quarter bucket was one of the moments when the Ragin’ Cajun freshmen had to handle extra minutes and a bit of fatigue.
“They (the freshmen) got more minutes for a longer period of time tonight,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said. “Before, we had kept them out there for few minutes at a time and were rotating people in and out. We kept them out there for more minutes so they could learn the offense.”
The upperclassmen and freshmen managed to hold SUNO to single digits in scoring in three out of the four periods. The Lady Knights scored three, six and seven points on the last three quarters as part of their 12-for-48 night on field goal attempts. “We were working on our offense, transition defense and every aspect of the game,” Brodhead said. “We had a lot of opportunities to work on our halfcourt offense and with different lineups.”
The Cajuns (2-0) had their biggest scoring burst in the opening quarter when they put up 28 points. by making 12 of their first 14 shots. Senior guard Kia Wilridge canned a couple of mid-range jumpers and she got to the rim a couple of times for layups. “Before, Kia was always trying to get to the rim and she had to kick the ball out,” Brodhead said. “But now, she is shooting that jumper. She has worked extremely hard on that as part of her game and it shows. She makes our team a lot more difficult (to guard) when she is making those jumpers. I thought she made some great decisions, too and made them guard her.”
Keke Veal reached double figures when she made consecutive layups early in the second period to give the Cajuns a 20-point cushion at 32-12.
The lead grew to 32 by the 3-minute mark of the period when the Cajuns led 44-12 after a Wilridge free throw. Meanwhile the Lady Knights did not score in the second quarter until Micah Brooks made a free throw with 2:14 remaining. The Cajuns carried a 48-15 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
The Cajuns outscored the Lady Knights 20-6 in the third period to keep increasing the lead through the early stages of the second half. Sophomore Simone Fields led all scorers with 15 points. Fields gave the guards credit for helping create some space for her to get the ball in the paint. “When they start driving and kicking it in that just helps me because the defense has to help out on them and then I’m open,” Fields said.
The Cajuns will next head to the Lone Star State for a Sunday game against the University of Houston (0-2) at 2 p.m.