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Women’s Basketball: Veal scores 25, but UL women falls to UALR

UL guard Keke Veal (24) drives the ball past center court during the first half of an NCAA women’s basketball game at Earl K. Long Gymnasium in Lafayette, Feb. 20. / Paul Kieu, The Advertiser

The Advertiser, March 1, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Keke Veal scored a career-high 25 points but it was not enough as UALR Rallied from a seven-point first half deficit to claim a 48-41 victory over Louisiana on Thursday night in the Stephens Center.

The loss drops the Cajuns to 9-19 on the year and 3-16 in league play while UALR improves to 21-7 overall and claims at least a share of the Sun Belt west division crown with a 13-6 record.


“We made some poor decisions down the stretch and didn’t execute properly on defense, otherwise, we could have come away with another win,” Louisiana head coach Garry Brodead said.


“We did some real good things on defense in the first half and you could see that we frustrated them. But in the second half, we didn’t switch properly and when we doubled down, they got loose for a couple of three’s. That was unfortunate.


“I am still proud of this team. With Adrienne (Prejean) out, we only had seven players to rotate and you could see they got tired because they had to work hard running the motion offense and guard tight at the other end. We’re going to be good. You can see it. It is just going to take a little time and a couple of more players next year.”


Veal, the only Cajuns player to score in double figures, was 10-for-23 from the field with a pair of three-pointers. She had 15 points on six-for-10 shooting in the first half.


Only six Trojans scored, but five had eight or more. Shanity James led UALR with 11 points and 15 rebounds while Taylor Gault added 10.


The difference in the game proved to be the little things. After each team claimed 16 boards in the first half, UALR owned a 25-18 edge in the second half, including 12 offensive boards. After making 10 turnovers in the first half, the Trojans committed just five in the second stanza and had 12 second chance points.


The Cajuns did not trail the first 20 minutes as a patient UL offense combined with 10 UALR turnovers gave Louisiana a 21-20 halftime lead.


The game was tied at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12 before Louisiana ran off six straight points to open up an 18-12 lead. Veal started the burst with a pair of free throws. After Kia Willridge connected on a short jumper, Veal scored on a driving layup to give UL a six-point advantage with 5:22 left.


Shanity James scored in the lane at the 4:51 mark to snap a 5:38 scoreless drought for the Trojans.


Louisiana came right back as Veal scored a three-point play to push the Cajun advantage to 21-14 with 4:09 left.


Veal, who scored 15 of UL’s 21 first half points, left the game after picking up her second foul with 3:39 left and the Cajuns went scoreless to close the half.


UALR did not as Taylor Gault scored six straight points to bring the Trojans back to within one at the intermission.


James opened the second half with a basket inside that gave the Trojans its first lead of the night, 22-21, but the Cajuns answered right back, running off six straight points to build a 27-22 lead with 14:52 remaining.


Ashley Benjamin started the spurt with a pair of free throws while Jasmin Mills and Brandi Schambough each converted baskets in the lane.


UALR found it offense as Kiera Clark made all four baskets as part of an 8-0 Trojan run that put UALR ahead, 30-27, with 12:32 left.


The Cajuns hung close as a three-pointer by Veal made it a 34-32 game (8:47) before another 8-0 UALR run, keyed by a pair of treys by Janette Merriex pushed the Trojan lead to 42-32 with 5:29 remaining.


The Cajuns would have their opportunities as UALR would convert just two of its six free throws in the final 65 seconds but cold-shooting would prevent a UL comeback.


After a practice day on Friday, the Cajuns travel to Monroe, La. to close the 2012-13 regular season against ULM on Saturday (March 2.) beginning at 2 p.m.