TROY, Ala. — Don’t look now, but that team UL women’s basketball coach Garry Brodhead has been raving about for over a year now is suddenly being unleashed on the Sun Belt Conference.
On Thursday, his Ragin’ Cajuns beat South Alabama to get to 2-1 in league play to take a small step toward perhaps being a contender for the league title down the road.
On Saturday, Brodhead’s crew headed in that direction with a surprising 77-73 road win over the Troy Trojans.
Some games just ooze with signs of progress.
“It’s big,” Brodhead said. “Really, this whole season has been big for us, especially when we’ve had everybody healthy. That allows us to play different lineups and do so many different things.”
Troy entered the game 12-3 overall and 3-0 in league play. In the Brodhead era, the Cajuns had never won a game at Troy. In fact, UL’s only win in 10 previous tries at Troy came in 2006.
Because of the impressive victory, UL is suddenly 10-5 overall and 3-1 in league play. With Coastal Carolina’s win over UT-Arlington on Saturday, that means the Cajuns are now tied for first place.
The other surprising thing about the win is the star of the game. True freshman Makayia Hallmon only played 12 minutes, but scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field off the bench to spark UL’s effort.
“She’s been practicing really, really well recently,” Brodhead said. “She’s more comfortable now.”
Brodhead said the team has been running 10-second drills in practice and Hallmon has shined. In the second half against Troy’s pressure defense, those drills paid huge dividends.
“We put her in the game in the fourth quarter and she just went off,” he said. “She just kept getting loose and hit shot after shot.”
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The leading scorer was Ty’Reona Doucet with 17 points and eight rebounds, followed by Kimberly Burton with 15 points and five boards on 5-of-8 shooting.
“That’s just so huge for us,” Brodhead said of Burton, who was always a defensive standout now adding offense to her game. “People have to guard her now. She’s worked so hard on her shot and she’s shooting the ball with so much confidence.”
Skyler Goodwin added 10 points to the win.
For the second straight game, it was free-throw shooting that elevated UL over the opposition. The Cajuns made 20 of 24 attempts at the line for 83.3%, while Troy only made 11 of 24 tries for 45.8%.
That allowed the Cajuns to overcome committing 15 turnovers to Troy’s 13 and getting outrebounded 47-41.
UL shot 43.5% from the field to 37.3% for Troy and both teams only made 27% of their 3-point attempts.
The Cajuns can now really take aim at being a Sun Belt contender when they travel to league-leading UTA at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, before heading to Texas State at 2 p.m. next Saturday.
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