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Women’s Basketball: New faces carry UL women to win – first game in newly-renovated Cajundome

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, Dec. 1, 2016

Alexander, Swain play huge roles in win

Click here for photo gallery of game.

The UL Ragin’ Cajuns women’s basketball team has been searching for complementary pieces to fill in around supreme post threat Simone Fields and star guard Jaylyn Gordon.

In Thursday’s 74-55 victory over Xavier of New Orleans for the first UL win in the newly renovated Cajundome, the “help” did the heavy lifting.

Gordon made just four of 11 shots from the field in scoring 14 points and Fields certainly contributed with 12 points and seven boards.
But on this night, it was senior forward Gabby Alexander who stole the show with 15 points, nine rebounds and two steals.

“I’ve been practicing really hard,” said Alexander, who said Thursday’s win was the most fun she’s had so far in her college career. “Last year, I wasn’t working as hard and kind of gave up on myself. This year, I know I have to be more of a team leader.”

Junior transfer Troi Swain also delivered her best performance of the season with 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.

“Anytime you’re with a new team with new teammates, it takes some time,” Swain said. “My confidence was a little down. I kind of got down on myself. I felt a lot more comfortable tonight.”

As a team, the Cajuns shot 44.4 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from 3-point land.

Swain made half of her four 3-pointers and Gordon half of her six.

“After Jaylyn hit those two 3s, they put a box-and-one on her and face-guarded her,” UL coach Garry Brodhead said. “We should have been able to dive on the backside, but we did too much standing and watching. We finally started doing it in the second half.”


Brodhead couldn’t have been any happier with the performances of Alexander and Swain.

“I think Gabby started seeing the opportunity in practice to work hard,” he said. “All we want her to do is rebound and she got nine tonight. She almost had a double-double. That was great to see.”

In addition to her floor leadership as a point guard, Swain’s perimeter shooting is something the Cajuns will be counting on.

“Troi can really shoot the ball,” Brodhead said. “We need that from her. That’s why we recruited her.

“Now we just need her to be more aggressive (defensively) when she’s on help side. She’s still standing around too much.”


In addition to the unexpected 25 points and 16 rebounds from Alexander and Swain, Brodhead put great emphasis on the Cajuns improving on their man-to-man pressure in the second half.

“We started out in a 1-2-2 pressure zone,” Brodhead said. “When we went to man (in first half), the freshmen weren’t running it quick enough, so we backed off. At halftime we talked about how we’ve got to get going with it.”

It worked like a charm. Xavier had eight turnovers at half, before finishing with 22, compared to 16 for the Cajuns.

“We got better at it in the second half, I thought that was the difference in the game,” Brodhead said. “We were able to wear down their point guard I thought. When we get that, we’re going to be really good.”

The other area of concentration is taking charges over blocking shots.

“Our defense is not about blocking shots,” he said. “To me, you’re just taking yourself out of the play when you try to block the shot.”


The Cajuns will certainly be moving on without two perimeter-shooting options in Sylvana Okde and Taylor Washington.

Both elected to leave the program, Brodhead confirmed after Thursday’s win.

Fortunately for the Cajuns, it appears the bench is the deepest in Brodhead’s era. Freshman center Brittney Myles showed remarkable progress at the line by hitting all three attempts.

“She’s very coachable,” Brodhead said. “She’s going to get better. You’re going to see some good things from her.”

For the second straight game, opposing defenses limited Fields’ chances in the paint. The junior forward made four of six attempts.

“They doubled down on Simone,” Brodhead said. “It wasn’t that they were fronting her. They had a lot of backside help. Teams are going to do that. We’ve got to do a better job of taking advantage of that.”


The Cajuns (now 3-2) will take a week off to focus on final exams, before returning to the Cajundome to take on Southern of New Orleans on Dec. 10.