LAFAYETTE — When a pair of Louisiana-Lafayette seniors were forced to the bench, Arkansas State made its move.
Aundrea Gamble scored a game-high 30 points to help carry Arkansas State to a 74-62 win over UL-Lafayette on Thursday night at the Cajundome.
“Gamble just made shots,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said. “She went 8-for-8 from the free-throw line, and she had 22 points at the half. We didn’t face-guard her. We decided to guard her regularly and try to spend a little more energy on (Khadija) Brown-Haywood. That was a coaching decision. Gamble played really well.”
As the Cajuns tried to offset Gamble’s effort, Cajun guards Kia Wilridge and Keke Veal both encountered foul trouble. When Veal fouled out on an offensive foul with 3:09 remaining, the Cajuns trailed 64-62. The Red Wolves responded by putting up the final 10 points to pull away.
“The difference in the game was Kia and Keke on the bench,” Brodhead said. “We are trying to run a defense without them and they are so good at what they do. They are so confident in what they do. That stretch — with four minutes left we were tied — but you could tell they were coming on and getting a little more comfortable.”
The Cajuns (16-6, 9-4 Sun Belt) employed a rare defensive tactic by mixing in some zone looks along with their typical man-to-man defense in an attempt to catch the Red Wolves off guard. However, Arkansas State was able to muster enough offense over the last few minutes to stay unbeaten in conference play (13-0, 19-3 overall).
Gamble scored on a layup with 2:15 left to put the Red Wolves on top 66-62. Then Brittany Fowler widened the gap by draining a 3-pointer with 1:40 left. The margin went to double digits with 38 seconds left thanks to a 3-pointer from Jessica Flanery.
“Things like that fall in the other team’s favor sometimes,” Wilridge said. “I thought some of their shots were bad shots and they still made them. Everybody knows Arkansas State can shoot, so we may say they were tough shots, but they are shooters.”
The Cajuns made enough shots through the third quarter and into the fourth to mostly keep pace with the Red Wolves. That included Veal making 11-of-16 field goals on the way to registering 25 points. Overall, the Cajuns made 48 percent of their shots (26-of-54). Aside from the shooting success, Brodhead cited turnovers and points off those situations as being a factor.
“Turnovers were big for them,” Brodhead said. “They scored 17 points off turnovers. Those 17 points were a difference.”
Wilridge chipped in 12 points to finish as the other double-figure scorer besides Veal for the Cajuns.
The Cajuns outscored Arkansas State 44-20 in the paint, but the Red Wolves managed to make a dent in that area later in the game. “They weren’t really getting a lot of post touches in the first half,” Brodhead said. “In the second half, they went with some post players and got it inside.”
The Cajuns will wrap up their two-game homestand on Saturday against Arkansas-Little Rock at 2 p.m.