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Women’s Basketball: Fields, Cajuns knock off No. 3 Troy

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, March 12, 2015



 UL’s Simone Fields plays defense during the Cajuns’ 66-52 victory over No. 3 Troy on Wednesday at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.(Photo: Photo by Sun Belt Sports)


VIDEO: UL women beats Troy in Sun Belt tournament first round  


The No. 6-seeded UL Ragin’ Cajuns are known for pressing opponents with great success.

No. 3-seeded Troy is known for a fast-paced game, firing up 3-pointers almost at will.

After getting swept during the regular season by the Trojans, coach Garry Brodhead decided to go back to a strategy that seemed to work a year ago against Troy.

Troy, on the other hand, played way more zone defense than it usually does, because of the success other teams have had against UL’s penetrating offense all season long.

As it turned out, Brodhead’s Cajuns were much better at both delivering and hittting the curve, turning the tables with a convincing 66-52 win over Troy in the opening round of the Sun Belt Women’s Tournament at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.

"I thought our best defense tonight was our offense," Brodhead said. "It was just one of those games. We caught them at the right time."

The Cajuns will now play No. 2 Arkansas State at 2 p.m. Friday. UL split with the Red Wolves during the regular season.

The Trojans (20-10) entered the tournament on a school-record, eight-game winning streak, only to meet a UL squad ready to pull off the upset.

While playing at a slower pace offensively did the trick, perhaps the biggest thing for the Cajuns was outrebounding Troy 43-36 after the Trojans led the conference in offensive rebounding this season.

"We broke down in (getting) rebounds," Troy coach Chandra Rigby said. "We didn’t rebound like we have all season long. I don’t know what happened."

Rigby also credited the Cajuns for slowing down their fullcourt offense attack by keeping two players back. UL was still able to force 19 turnovers.

Both coaches called the game "boring" because of the slower pace, but the 14-point final score wasn’t indicative of how close the game was until UL pulled away late. Kourtney Garrett’s 3-pointer with 4:56 left cut UL’s lead to 51-47. Troy, however, wouldn’t score until an Ashley Beverly-Kelley jumper with 1:01 left.

That basket made it 57-49, but the Cajuns made nine free throws in the final 58 seconds to ice the victory that improved UL to 19-11. A win Friday would give UL its fourth 20-win season in school history.

Besides UL’s different strategy overall, the biggest curve ball thrown at the Trojans was the performance turned in by UL freshman post Simone Fields. All Fields did was make seven of nine shots from the field for 15 points, while also pulling down 10 rebounds.

"It really feels good," Fields said. "Now I have to come back and do it again the next game."

It was the first double-double of the season by any Cajun player.

"We talked all week about how it was going to take more than just the guards," Brodhead said. "We talked about getting the post more touches."

In addition to Fields’ memorable night, Gabby Alexander came off the bench to score seven points and pull down seven rebounds, not to mention play a role in defending Troy’s big post Caitlyn Ramirez.

"Gabby’s a really athletic kid," Brodhead said. "She came up big tonight for us. She’s defending a little better. Once she does that, my assistant coaches will let her play more."

While some things were new, UL’s top three scorers delivered as well. Keke Veal finished with a game-high 20 points, along with seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.

"Our gameplan was to push it in transition and if it wasn’t there, back off," Veal said. "We stayed on top of it from the beginning until the end."

Jaylyn Gordon contributed 13 points and three rebounds to the win, while Kia Wilridge added 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.

"All week long," Brodhead said, "we focused on the things we could do.

"We slowed the tempo down. We defended them well. And we rebounded with them."

And it worked like a charm.

SBC Tourney Schedule

All games at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans

Today’s Games

1-UALR 71, 8-Georgia State 54

4-Texas State 52, 5-UTA 46

2-Arkansas St. 67, 7-Appalachian St. 52

No. 6-UL 66, 3-Troy 52

Friday’s Games

UALR vs. Texas State, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN3)

Arkansas State vs. UL, 2 p.m. (ESPN3)

Saturday’s Game

Championship Game, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)