LAFAYETTE — Before the University of Louisiana at Lafayette women’s basketball team could climb back to break-even, the Cajuns had to absorb a sustained scoring punch from South Alabama.
But sophomore guard Jaylyn Gordon canned a 3-pointer with a minute left to give UL-Lafayette a seven-point lead in their 65-58 victory Saturday at the Cajundome.
“You can see the confidence in these kids’ eyes,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said. “You start to feel that you deserve some of the (positive) things that have happened to them.
“I’m pleased with the steps we are making. It was not the prettiest game, but the kids deserve it.”
The Cajuns reached the .500 mark in Sun Belt Conference play as they improved to 3-3 and 11-4 overall by holding off a South Alabama squad that extended its losing streak to 11 games.
The Jaguars entered the game shooting 36 percent — last in the conference. They topped that figure in the opening half by making 13 field goals in 24 attempts (54 percent). Five of those came from 3-point range, with guard Rachel Cumbo making all three of her attempts from long range to account for her nine first-half points. South Alabama headed to the locker room with a 35-32 lead.
“They shot well, especially in the first half,” Brodhead said. “That caused us trouble. We were guarding, but we were not in great defensive position. We held them to 23 points in the second half, which was better.”
The Cajuns evened the score four and a half minutes into the second half when Keke Veal connected on a jumper to make it 41-41. UL-Lafayette limited the Jaguars to three points over the next five minutes to gradually build a 51-44 advantage. “They are a 3-point shooting team, so we had to learn when to go and when not to go (help out on defense), Veal said.”
The Cajuns maintained the lead the rest of the way. It never dropped below four points again. The closest the Jaguars got was 59-55 when Gordon made her last basket from long distance. Gordon picked up her fourth foul with 16 minutes left. Although she had to sit for a long stretch, she posted 15 points, including a 4-of-7 effort from 3-point range.
“She (Gordon) has put in some extra time and she hit some big shots,” Brodhead said.
Veal equaled Gordon’s output with 15 points. Guards Kia Wilridge and Robbie Brown were the other two double-figure scorers for the Cajuns with 14 and 10, respectively. Cumbo and Breanna Hall each scored 14 for South Alabama (3-13, 0-7).
The Cajuns will have a day break before jumping back into SBC action with a Monday meeting at 5 p.m. when they host UL-Monroe.