LAFAYETTE — A burst of speed and a bounce helped the University of Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball team equal the best start in school history.
The Cajuns held a 54-52 advantage over Southern-New Orleans and they had possession of the ball with 38 seconds remaining. As UL-Lafayette worked down the clock, junior guard Kia Wilridge found a small crease in the SUNO defensive zone. Her jumper bounced high off the rim and went through the net to give the Cajuns some breathing room in an eventual 58-52 victory at the Cajundome on Saturday.
“Honestly, I don’t even remember (the play),” Wilridge said. “My best plays are when I am unaware and just in my zone and just trying to work. We had struggled the whole night to try and find a rhythm. Most teams run that wide zone (defensively), and we just had an off game.”
Following Wilridge’s basket, SUNO misfired on the return trip down court. A pair of free throws by guard Jaylyn Gordon accounted for the final score, which improved the Cajuns’ record to 6-0. That ties the 1983 team for the best start.
The offensive struggles for the Cajuns included going 0-for-9 from 3-point range. Overall, UL-Lafayette connected on 35.2 percent of its field goal attempts.
“The shots we took were fairly good, but we weren’t penetrating and doing some of the things that we normally do,” Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead said.
When SUNO stifled the Cajuns’ perimeter offense, some relief came close to the basket. Freshman Simone Fields and junior Jasmin Mills combined to score 23 points and grab 15 rebounds.
“We talked about penetrating and going inside, and they (shots) started falling for us,” Mills said.
Neither squad was able to gain much of an advantage during the first 20 minutes. The Lady Knights’ Brandy Broome drained a 3-pointer with eight seconds left to enable SUNO to head to the locker room with a 26-25 lead. The Cajuns went ahead 40-34 at the 14-minute mark of the second half on a layup by Mills. However, UL-Lafayette could not expand the lead any further. Mills connected on a jumper to keep the margin at six (54-48) with two minutes left. The Lady Knights responded with a pair of buckets to set the stage for Wilridge’s drive and jumper.
Keke Veal had 10 points and seven rebounds for UL-Lafayette. Wilridge finished with nine points. Breanna Wiley led SUNO (5-3) with 15 points.
The Cajuns’ next opportunity to sharpen their skills will come Wednesday in a home contest against Southeastern Conference opponent Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are 9-0 and ranked 22nd in the nation.