Women’s Basketball: UL women down McNeese, 63-58
Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, March 21, 2015
UL junior guard Keke Veal did the heavy lifting and sophomore teammate Jaylyn Gordon delivered the daggar in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 63-58 victory in the WBI West Region semifinals over McNeese State on Saturday at E.K. Long Gym.
As a result, both were beaming with extra big smiles in the postgame press conference, and why not?
For the team, it meant the Cajuns improved to 21-12 and vaulted UL into the West Region finals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational. UL will now play the winner of Monday’s New Mexico State-Oral Roberts game on Thursday.
The Cajuns would travel to New Mexico or host Oral Roberts. If UL wins, it would host the WBI championship game, tentatively on Sunday.
“It feels good, because we just beat a great program,” UL coach Garry Brodhead said. “That’s why it’s so important. I helped build that program and I still feel a part of it. This was a great win for our program.”
For Veal, it was extra special because it was a career-high, 29-point performance in most likely the most significant game of her career in front of a packed house of 1,169.
“I just kept seeing the block open and I just went for it,” Veal said. “That’s my favorite move.
”I didn’t realize I scored that many. It just kind of came in the operation of the offense.”
Veal, who was 12-of-21 shooting from the field and also had eight rebounds, gave the Cajuns a 55-50 lead with 4:28 to go.
But the Cowgirls wouldn’t go away. UL had no answer down the stretch for Jayln Johnson’s penetration and when Talisa Boyd scored after a rebound with 1:25 left, McNeese led for the first time all night.
The Cajuns then got a clutch job at the line from freshman Simone Fields, who hit both ends of the one-and-one with 1:09 left, but Victoria Rachal quickly answered with a basket at 1:01 to regain the lead for the Cowgirls.
That set the stage for the moment Gordon couldn’t wait for and probably wondered if she’d get again. After missing the 3-pointer at the buzzer in the semifinal round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, she wasn’t about to let this second chance go by.
This time Gordon nailed the 3-pointer – in almost the same spot on the floor – with 51 seconds left to give the Cajuns the lead for good in the win.
“I shot that shot before practice, all practice long and after practice,” said Gordon, who scored 12 points, along with two rebounds and two steals. “I knew I was going to make it.”
Johnson tried to respond for the Cowgirls, but was called for a charge to end McNeese State’s comeback hopes.
“We didn’t have a very good first half, but credit Lafayette,” MSU coach Brooks Donald-Williams said. “They had a lot to do with that. They really went after the ball and we didn’t respond very well.
“Keke played a great game. We didn’t do a good job of helping on the off side. That was really a big emphasis in this game and we were late in helping.”
Johnson’s effectiveness resulted in Kia Wilridge setting for 13 points and three rebounds before fouling out with only 27 minutes played.
“This was exciting,” Donald-Williams said. “The atmosphere is what college basketball is all about. This is an old rivalry that goes all the way back to football and everything else between McNeese and UL. It was so much fun for the kids.”
Brodhead credited his defense for limiting Allison Baggett to 11 points and three rebounds in 27 minutes.
“You have to try to limit her touches,” Brodhead said. “I thought we did a good job of making her work hard to get open.
“I thought Jaylyn did a good job on her. Holding Allison to 11 points might have been bigger than the 3-pointer she made.”