Before his team embarked on its road trip in Arkansas, Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball coach Garry Brodhead was hoping to earn a split in games against Little Rock and Arkansas State.
Now that the first leg is complete with a 65-58 win at Little Rock, would Brodhead be so audacious to hope for a sweep?
Maybe, but he’s not ready to proclaim that publicly just yet.
“It’s always been a challenge for us to come into Jonesboro,” Brodhead said Friday. “We’ve struggled here.”
The Cajuns (10-2, 3-0) haven’t won in Jonesboro since February 2000. Since then, they have dropped 10 straight road contests to the Red Wolves (9-3, 3-0).
Could this be the year that streak gets snapped? The Cajuns have emerged as a contender as they’ve roared to the league’s best overall record. With three league wins apiece, the Cajuns and Red Wolves are tied atop the Sun Belt Conference standings.
And, most importantly, Brodhead is seeing some maturity out of his team, which should help in difficult road environments.
“The maturity of the seniors and the juniors helps us to be able to get through things,” Brodhead said. “We’re physically ready to play anybody, but are we mentally? That was always the struggle we had — mental breakdowns and so forth. I thought (Thursday against Little Rock), through their runs, we were able to handle it mentally.”
Brodhead said that maturity has made his team more comfortable on the road than it has been at any other time in his tenure. Both of the Cajuns’ losses have come on the road, but one of them was by a point to Houston as the Cajuns scored a season-low 51 points.
The Cajuns will need some of that comfort Saturday to face Arkansas State’s stellar senior, Aundrea Gamble.
Gamble was named the league’s most outstanding player each of the past two seasons, and she’s having another outstanding campaign. She ranks third in the SBC in scoring at 16.9 points per game while also ranking second in assists at 4.5 per game.
“She can penetrate, she can shoot the ball, but what she does is get everybody involved,” Brodhead said. “She can create offense for her teammates. She’s a pass-first, score-second type of point guard, but she can score. And she’s a very good defensive player too.”
Saturday’s game should provide a true measuring stick to see where the Cajuns stack up against the better teams in the league. Brodhead is eager for the results.
“I’m anxious to see how much we’ve grown,” he said.