LAKE CHARLES (KPLC)- McNeese State's women's basketball team opened Southland Conference play here Saturday with a 66-51 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to improve to 11-4 overall and 1-0 in league play. The loss drops TAMU-CC to 4-10 on the year and 0-1 in league play.
"Its always great to start off 1-0 in conference play. We did a lot of good things in the first half but our shots weren't falling," said head coach Brooks Donald Williams.
McNeese's Ashlyn Baggett led all players with 24 points, tying her season high she scored against LSU on Dec. 16. Baggett was 7 of
16 from the field including three treys. Senior Kendra Wells recorded her third double-double of the season with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Wells was 5 of 12 from the field and grabbed 11 defensive rebounds.
The Cowgirls got off to a slow start in the first half and trailed very early in the contest before a Wells jumper gave McNeese a one point lead (5-4) with 16:21 left in the half. Once the Cowgirls took the lead they never gave it up and led by as many as 15 points (31-16) with 2:06 left in the first half. McNeese held a 33-21 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Cowgirls' defense sparked the offense and McNeese held a double digit lead for all but :23 seconds early in the half. After the Islanders cut the lead to nine (35-26) with
18:31 left in the game, two free throws by Wells once again gave McNeese a double-digit lead and one they wouldn't give up.
"At least 85% of our practices are working on defense. We definitely did a better job on defense in the second half. We took the same shots that we did in the first half, they just fell in the second half," said Williams.
McNeese also got quality minutes from its bench when Martika Hull, Caitlyn Baggett and Candace LaCombe got into foul trouble. Raiyawana Gatlin came off the bench to score 12 points and grabbed six rebounds.
McNeese will return to action Wednesday when they will host Lamar in the first game of a double-header with the men's team. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. In between games, the Southland Conference Championship, SLC Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament banners will be unveiled.