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Women’s Basketball: UALR barely survives UL comeback

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, March 5, 2015



UL’s Robbie Brown (3) attempts to dribble past UALR’s Alexius Dawn (10) during the 68-66 loss to the first-place Trojans on Thursday at the Cajundome. (Photo: Leslie Westbrook/The Advertiser)


PHOTO GALLERY: UL vs. UALR Women’s Basketball


As it turns out, it doesn’t matter whether the UL Ragin’ Cajun women’s basketball plays the best or the worst team in the Sun Belt Conference.

Either way, two things are almost guaranteed to happen.

One, coach Garry Brodhead’s young ladies are going to play hard until the final buzzer.

And two, they’re going to force 20 or more turnovers to give themselves a chance, pretty much no matter how well they shoot it.


Any lingering doubts about those two issues should have been eliminated for good on Thursday at the Cajundome.

Trailing by as much as 22 points to a 24-win, first-place UALR squad, the Cajuns unleashed a furious second-half rally before falling short 68-66 in the home finale.

UL dropped to 18-10 overall and 10-9 in Sun Belt play with the loss, while UALR improved to 25-4 and 18-2.

"UALR guards inside the 3-point line better than anybody in the country," said Brodhead, whose team shot 43.4 percent from the field while forcing 24 more turnovers.

And everything that went into that had Brodhead and his team awfully frustrated in the first half.

"I tried to get thrown out," said Brodhead, who was issued a technical foul. "But they wouldn’t throw me out."

The Cajuns were upset about UALR’s ultra-aggressive halfcourt defense.

"We had to keep bumping them, because they were bumping us," said junior guard Kia Wilridge, who finished with 16 points, four rebounds and three steals.

"The difference (in second half) was easy," Brodhead said. "We were aggressive in the second half and they called fouls in the second half. In the first half, we were aggressive and they didn’t call fouls. The game isn’t that complicated.

"I thought the emphasis this year was on hand-checking. Why not call it now? I didn’t even want to discuss it. It’s a foul. In college, I think we think we’re too smart sometimes. A foul is a foul."

Whether it was UALR’s defense, or the fact that the Trojans shot 62 percent in the first half and finished the game shooting 62.2 percent from the field, the Trojans led 50-28 with just over 12 minutes left to play.

Somehow, the Cajuns still refused to give any ground.

"That’s us," Wilridge said. "That’s how we’ve been our whole life. That’s just the drive we have."

The comeback began with a Keke Veal 3-pointer at 12:26 and Robbie Brown’s 3-pointer cut it to 56-42 with 7:59 left. An eight-point run by Jaylyn Gordon got it to 58-48 and two Veal layups amazingly cut it to 60-54 with 4:10 left to play.

Brown would hit another 3 with 22 seconds left to cut it to 65-61. Honored after the game as the team’s only senior, Brown finished with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.

"We know we didn’t play our best basketball in the first half," Brown said. "That’s why I’m so proud to be a part of this team."

In the end, Alexius Dawn’s sharpshooting did in the Cajuns. Hitting five of eight tries behind the arc on the night, Dawn hit a crucial 3-pointer at 2:25 to give UALR a nine-point lead at 63-54 that UL couldn’t overcome.

After holding Taylor Gault to six points in the first half, she ended up with 17 and Kaitlyn Pratt also scored 17 for UALR.

Gordon had 15 points and four rebounds for the Cajuns, while Veal had 14.

"I can take it (two-point loss), because it’s the No. 1 team," Wilridge said. "That’s the only reason."