Jan 11, 2014 11:40 PM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE, La. - Sylvana Okde scored 20 points for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns women's basketball team, leading them to a 66-64 victory over the UT Arlington Mavericks on Saturday, Jan. 11 at the Cajundome. The Cajuns improved to 9-5 on the season and 2-1 in Sun Belt play with the win.
Okde's 20 points were her second-most of the season and she set a season-high with six 3-pointers, shoting 6-for-15 from the field and 2-for-2 from the line.
"We started slow on both sides of the ball," head coach Garry Brodhead said after the game. "In the second half we came out strong. [Okde] got us going with some three's and we started to move the ball better. We also switched from a zone defense to a man-defense and I thought it affected them and created some turnovers."
Junior Robbie Brown also had a great night starting with sophomore Keke Veal out with a foot injury, and set a career-high with ten rebounds while coming just two points shy of a double-double with a season-high eight points.
"[Brown] played extremely well," Brodhead said. "She started and really finished the second half strong. With [Veal] out we decided to go with someone defensive and [Brown] played very well. She brought some energy for the younger kids to see when she is diving on the floor and doing what it takes."
The teams traded baskets for the first part of the game, leading to a Kia Wilridge layup with 14:33 left in the first half to give the Cajuns a 10-7 lead, their biggest of the half. UTA turned on the offense after that, going on a 20-6 run and taking their biggest lead of the game, an 11-point lead, 27-16.
The Cajuns responded immediately with back-to-back jumpers from Wilridge and Robbie Brown and eventually battled back to trail by 34-28 at halftime. Wilridge led the Cajuns with eight points, and Brown led with six rebounds.
The Cajuns came out fast in the second half, opening the half with a 9-2 run which included two triples from Okde, with the second giving the Cajuns a 37-36 lead and forcing an early timeout.
The game saw 11 lead changes, seven of which came in the second half. The two teams would trade points for a good majority of the final 20 minutes.
"We did a good job at the post and keeping them from touches at the end," Brodhead added. "We made it difficult for them at the end and didn't foul as much as we used to so that helped us make some stops."
UTA regained the lead, 39-37, after the Okde 3-pointer and held it for the next 13 minutes, with a lead of seven points after a bucket by Malaika Green with 14:23 left.
Gabby Alexander was fouled on a made layup with 6:05 left to tie the game and give the Cajuns a lead on the ensuing free throw. The Cajuns and Mavericks exchanged the lead four more times over the next five minutes.
With UTA up, 59-57, with 3:50 remaining, Wilridge forced Desherra Nwanguma and hit Brown on a fast break to tie the game for the fifth time.
One minute later, Wilridge had another steal and hit a jumper in the lane to give the Cajuns the lead for good, 61-59 lead. Wilridge sealed it one minute later with a hook shoot from the paint with 32 seconds remaining, and Okde iced the game with a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left.
"That is what we are about," Brodhead said of the comeback. "When you can play defense and keep at it you can make some stops. That's what happened tonight. We started to make some stops and pushed the ball in transition better than we have in a while."
Wilridge finished the game with 13 points, with her second consecutive game with double-digit points. It was Okde's third straight game with 10-or-more points and second game of 20-or-more in the last three games.
"I think that she has a lot more confidence now," Brodhead said of Okde's last few games. "She had a couple games early on that she didn't make many shots. We talked to her and told her that her shot looked really good, and her confidence started to come back. She also works extremely hard so we have a lot of confidence in her too."
The Cajuns will take to the road next week when they travel to the state of Alabama for a pair of games against South Alabama (Jan. 15) and Troy (Jan. 18). They will return to the Cajundome on Jan. 23 to take on Georgia State at 5 p.m.