LAFAYETTE — One exciting aspect of a home education game for the Louisiana-Lafayette women’s basketball team is the wave of schoolkids’ screams will be directed in the Ragin’ Cajuns favor.
That is Cajuns coach Garry Brodhead’s hope when elementary-school students come to the Cajundome Tuesday as part of the second-annual Education Game to see the Cajuns (6-1) face UC-Santa Barbara (1-9) of the Big West Conference at 11 a.m.
“We have played in two education games as a visitor in conference and I don’t want to do that again,” Brodhead said. “It’s loud. Kids are screaming and sometimes they don’t know what they are screaming about. It’s a definite home-court advantage.”
The Cajuns will be looking to stay unbeaten at home. Their first two home wins have been against in-state foes SUNO and Dillard. They will contend with a UC-Santa Barbara team that is coming off a 68-50 loss to LSU and is on a seven-game losing streak.
“They have size and their high-low (offensive) game is going to be a little more difficult for us to guard,” Brodhead said. “It’s something that we haven’t seen a lot of and we have been working on trying to guard it in the last couple of days.”
Sophomore guard Makala Roper is the Gauchos’ lone double-figure scorer at 11.8 points a game. Freshman Coco Miller is the next leading scorer at 8.5 points, but she has shot 27.3 percent on field goals.
“Their shooting (percentage) is down and that is scary,” Brodhead said. “They look like they are good shooters on film. It’s kind of like us during my first year here. We had some pretty good shooters, but we weren’t comfortable in what we were running. It’s going to take some time. You look at how they defend and how they run their offense, it’s just making shots.”
The Cajuns have managed to make shots at a better pace so far this season. They made 37.9 percent of their shots last season. They have converted 42.6 percent of their field goals through seven games. The Cajuns have also held opponents to 51.9 points a game and they have nearly doubled opponents in steals.
“We can get a lot better and we are still making mistakes,” Brodhead said. “We have been more consistent in scoring and I really believe in our defense. This is the best defensive team we have had since we have been here. We pressure so well and we can help each other and rebound. We are not a very big team, but we are very athletic.”
Guards Kia Wilridge, Jaylyn Gordon and Keke Veal have a nearly identical scoring output. Wilridge leads at 14.6 points. Gordon and Veal are each scoring 14.4.
“Moving Jaylyn Gordon to the point has helped Kia in a way because she is active on the wing,” Brodhead said. “She (Wilridge) can get out and run. She gets out ahead of everybody else and it does give her some options on those jumpers — especially those baseline jumpers and those jumpers from the middle of the lane. She has worked hard and I’m glad she is seeing these results — especially on the offensive side.”