There were plenty of things not to like about UL’s 62-49 home win over Xavier of New Orleans on Monday at the Cajundome.
UL coach Garry Brodhead just felt like his team started off sluggish, much like their recent week of practice.
The team’s best perimeter shooter in sophomore Brandi Williams was out nursing a hand injury.
As a result, UL shot 25 percent from 3-point land and 39.4 from the field overall for the game.
The Cajuns also got outrebounded 39-36.
“There were a lot of 50-50 balls that we could have gotten that we didn’t,” Brodhead said.
But those lines of thinking would also be overlooking plenty of good as well.
For starters, UL’s defense forced 20 turnovers, while only making nine on the other end.
“I thought we started a little bit sluggish,” Brodhead said. “I think the defense got us going, especially in the second half. I thought we came out with a little more energy and started to create some offense. You start making shots and you defend a little better. We had a week of practice where we were a little sluggish and I think it showed.”
Then there was the Cajuns’ two leading scorers in the game in junior Jomyra Mathis and true freshman Alexandria Goodly — two performers off the bench that haven’t been a big part of the team’s success so far this season.
Mathis finished the game with 10 points, along with two rebounds, two assists and a steal.
“Jo (Mathis) did a great job of back-cutting,” Brodhead said. “We’ve been preaching that all the time that the backside is wide open. So when you get it into the high post or the low post, that back side is always pretty much open.
We need Kim Burton and all the hybrids to be able to do that.”
It was especially encouraging to see Mathis perform after missing much of the early going on crutches with an ankle injury.”
“I feel like I’m getting back to it,” Mathis said. “I don’t think I’m all the way there yet, but every day there’s some progress. Every day I’m getting better and getting more comfortable with my teammates. I’m trying to build that chemistry with them since I was out.
“I just went into the game saying I’m going to play hard and do whatever I need to do to help my team win. So if I have a good game or I don’t, I’m going to continue to play hard.”
Goodly, meanwhile, also scored 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field in just 15 minutes of playing time.
“She’s playing point,” Brodhead said of Goodly. “I think as a freshman, she doesn’t understand that by putting some extra time in. I always tell them in the locker room that I evaluate how many shots they make. They don’t think I can count everybody’s shots, but when a kid goes through and makes one shot in a practice, I don’t feel very good going into the game.
“But she shot it well and she’s a shooter. I know she’s a shooter. I’ve seen her during the summer do really well by spending some extra time. Our whole team is like that. If we buy in to putting some extra time, a lot of good things are going to come out of it, especially her. She’s a true point guard who can shoot it.”
But the most impressive aspect of the win is it put the Cajuns at 6-1 heading into Saturday’s road trip to North Texas. That’s just one win shy of last year’s win total of seven.
“It’s a great feeling,” Mathis said. “It’s an awesome feeling, knowing that we have everybody back and that we’re doing good things. It’s rewarding when you put in the work like the coaches say, ‘If you put in the work, you get something out of it. How much you put in, that’s how much you’re going to get out of it.’ I feel like we deserve these wins. We earned them, great feeling.”
Overall, the Cajuns had 12 different players score.
“We played a lot of different people and different lineups,” Brodhead said. “I actually thought we could have pressed a little bit more in the second half. But overall, we didn’t shoot it as good as I thought we could have. You’ve got to be able to do those things.”