Jan 4, 2014 11:08 PM by UL Sports Information
MONROE, La. - Sylvana Okde hit a season-high four 3-pointers in the first half and finished the game with a career-high 23 points to lead the Cajuns to a 68-49 victory over ULM at the Fant-Ewing Coliseum in Monroe, La. The Cajuns improved to 8-4 and 1-0 in Sun Belt action with the victory.
"I thought we played extremely hard as a team today," head coach Garry Brodhead said after the game. "We kept switching lineups and I thought everyone responded well. We took care of the ball, our goal was to keep it under 10 and we only had nine turnovers."
Okde finished the game 8-11 from the field and was 4-7 on 3-point attempts. She also scored 23 points against Tulane on Dec. 19, 2012.
Fellow sophomores Kia Wilridge and Keke Veal chipped in with 14 and 13 points respectively, to combine with Okde for 50 points.
"They are all capable of scoring," Brodhead said of the sophomore trio. "It creates problems for the opponents because they are all different. Kia and Keke can get to the rim when they want and [Okde] can shoot from anywhere. When you have guards like that it creates problems for the opponents."
Wilridge, playing in her fourth game since missing the first eight games of the season following an offseason surgery, was back to her form from last year, hitting 5-of-9 from the field, including her first career three-pointer.
"This was the first game that she went all out and we played her when we needed her," Brodhead said of Wilridge's play. "She creates havoc on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Once she gets back into game shape in the next few weeks she will really excel."
Okde found her stride from behind the arc in the first half, hitting 4-of-6 from 3-point land and adding 1-of-2 from inside for 14 points in the first 20 minutes. Her four triples marked a season-high.
The Cajuns jumped out to an early lead, which an Okde triple pushed to eight points with 6:25 left in the half at 25-25. That was in the midst of a six-minute run in which she hit three of her four first-half three pointers.
ULM responded with an 8-0 run to tie the game with 3:58 left in the half, but Okde hit her fourth three of the half to reclaim the lead and put the Cajuns up 26-23. Jaylyn Gordon added a three of her own, and Kia Wilridge finished the half with a free throw to give the Cajuns a 30-28 lead after the first 20 minutes.
ULM used strong rebounding to counter the Cajuns strong shooting from behind the arc, grabbing 11 offensive rebounds and 17 defensive to out-rebound the Cajuns 28-20 and 11-9 in the Cajuns defensive zone.
The Cajuns added pressure in the second half, shooting 48.2% (14-of-29), from the field, after shooting 28.2% (11-of-39) in the first half. They finished the game shooting 36.8% (25-of-68) from the field.
"Now is a good time for us because we can get in the gym more and shoot the ball more," Brodhead added about the 3-point shooting. "It's giving them confidence, and like [Okde] did tonight, they will knock them down."
The Ragin' Cajuns sprinted ahead in the second half, by way of a 19-2 run, to take a 21-point lead at 61-40.
They would not look back from there, continuing to make shots and eventually holding a 24-point lead, before finishing the game up 19 points, with a 68-49 victory.
The Ragin' Cajuns will continue their Sun Belt schedule on Jan. 8 when they return to the Cajundome to take on conference newcomer Texas State in the first ever Sun Belt meeting between the two schools. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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