LAFAYETTE — After Norianna Haynes picked up a lot of points and handshakes, the Ragin’ Cajuns walked out of the Cajundome with a women’s college basketball win and a to-do list leading into a heavy dose of Sun Belt play.
Haynes, a senior forward for the Alcorn State Lady Braves poured in a game-high 39 points in an eventual 73-61 Louisiana-Lafayette victory Tuesday night in the final nonconference contest of the season.
“Our defense — we weren’t in good help position,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said. “That could have made a big difference in slowing down Haynes. I thought we did a great job in the third quarter. We held her to four points. We were denying her the ball. Then we take Jodi (Quinn) out, and she goes off in the fourth quarter. It was mostly not the person guarding her. We didn’t have help to take charges.”
The Cajuns overcame that individual scoring output by shooting 54 percent from the field (23-of-58). By scoring 20 points in each of the first three quarters, the Cajuns were able to build a 60-41 advantage and withstand an Alcorn run in the final period.
“We played well at times tonight and inconsistent at times,” Brodhead said. “That is the big thing going into conference. We need to be consistent.”
The Cajuns canned their first five shots during a two-minute run that started with a Simone Fields layup and ended with Kia Wilridge scoring on a drive to put UL-Lafayette ahead 11-5.
“I think that (layup) did help me find a rhythm at first,” said Fields, who finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
While the Cajuns were making more than half of their field goal attempts in the first half (15-of-29), Haynes was putting up 22 of the Braves 31 points. The Cajuns took a 40-31 advantage into intermission.
“For some reason, when we start a game and we are moving the ball and we are getting some good looks, it’s like the game is not challenging enough. And these kids always have to be challenged,” Brodhead said. “I would love for us to make our first five shots and say ‘Hey. This is some good offense. Let’s continue doing it.”
The Cajuns pushed their lead to 20 in the third period when Quinn made a 15-foot jumper with 2:17 remaining to make the score 57-37. The Cajuns kept the lead at 20 until Talisa Sherman made a free throw for Alcorn State (2-8) to account for the 19-point Cajun lead heading into the final period.
Keke Veal finished with 22 points on an 8-of-17 shooting effort to lead the Cajuns. Junior guard Jaylyn Gordon chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Cajuns (8-2) will resume Sun Belt play at 5 p.m. Saturday when they host Appalachian State.