LAFAYETTE — As the University of Arkansas-Little Rock’s women’s basketball team walked off the Cajundome court Thursday night with its 25th win, Louisiana-Lafayette senior guard Robbie Brown left with a two-point loss and a quiet determination regarding the direction of her teammates.
“It’s tough to lose, but I have to be happy to be part of a team like this,” Brown said of the squad that nearly overcame a 22-point deficit in a 68-66 defeat against the Sun Belt Conference champions.
The Trojans (25-4 and 18-2 in the SBC) took a 50-28 lead with just under 13 minutes left when Shanity James made a layup. The Cajuns still trailed by 16 at 58-42 with 7:30 left.
“We were down 22, but we recruit that kind of kid that has guts,” Cajuns’ coach Garry Brodhead said.
That big hole became a one-possession game during the final minute. Brown scored her final home-court bucket when she canned a 3-pointer with 22 seconds showing to make the score 65-61. Kia Wilridge followed that with a steal, which helped set up Jodi Quinn for a jumper to pull the Cajuns within a pair of points at 65-63.
“They are a tough matchup,” Brodhead said. “They (the Trojans) are so much better than what people think they are on offense.”
Kaitlynn Pratt converted a pair of free throws and then tacked on a third from the line after a Trojan steal. The Trojans had managed to rebuild a 68-63 advantage when Wilridge made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to account for the final score.
“We came in wanting to stop Taylor Gault and (Shanity) James,” Brodhead said. “But then Alexius Dawn hurt us early.”
The Trojans’ point guard made 3-of-4 from 3-point range during the first 20 minutes as part of her 11-point output. That helped the Trojans build a 31-23 halftime advantage before they quickly expanded that lead.
The Cajuns trailed 31-25 nearly a minute into the second stanza. Gault nailed a 3-pointer, blocked a shot defensively and banked in a runner off the glass to kick off a 15-2 run by the Trojans. “When you are facing a team that can hit those mid-range jumpers, it’s tough,” Brodhead said.
Four Cajuns reached double figures. Wilridge finished with 16 points, Jaylyn Gordon had 15, Keke Veal chipped in 14 before fouling out. Brown had 10 points, six rebounds and a pair of steals for UL-Lafayette, who fell to 18-10 and 10-9.
The Cajuns will wrap up the regular season Saturday with a trip to Jonesboro, Ark., to face Arkansas State.