McNeese Women’s Basketball opens season with win over Dillard
LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The McNeese Women’s Basketball team hosted the Dillard University Blue Devils to open up their season on Monday morning, and the Cowgirls controlled the matchup from start to finish. Julia Puente scored McNeese’s first basket of the day just 50 seconds into the game, and from then on the Cowgirls never looked back.
McNeese took a 21-8 lead into the second quarter, and a 41-17 lead into halftime before slowing down a bit in the second half, but eventually winning 76-47 in the season opener. The Cowgirls had four scorers in double-digits led by Mireia Yespes’ 12 on 5-9 shooting, and Cristina Gil nearly recorded a double-double as she had 11 points, and 8 rebounds on an efficient 4-5 shooting, including three of four made three-point-attempts.
For McNeese, one point of weakness was their struggles to keep the ball in their hands as they committed 22 turnovers, something Head Coach Lynn Kennedy discussed following the win.
“I think you almost look at it as, it’s the first game, I think we had four or five in the first few minutes, I just felt like we allowed them to step in and take some charges where we’ve got to be better at seeing that, we’re not reading the defense yet, and part of that is our youth, but we have shooters wide-open, Alva (Mofalk) hit back-to-back threes because we did attack, we read the defense, and we kicked it out, but we didn’t get enough of those opportunities. We’ll continue to work, we’ll start to look at tape now that we’ve got some game tape,” said Kennedy.
Monday morning was ‘Kids Day’ at the Legacy Center as local schools were invited to fill out the arena in support of the Cowgirls, and with an attendance of 3,533, it was an atmosphere that took some getting used to.
“It’s a different atmosphere when it’s sold out, the kids are screaming, and even though we were the home team it was a completely different atmosphere than a quiet practice, so some of that was getting used to it,” said Kennedy.
“It was great, I love the kids, I don’t know if they know what’s going on, but they were loving it, and we can feel their energy on the court so it’s great, when they get loud, it’s amazing,” said Cristina Gil.
One question about the Cowgirls heading into the 2023-24 season was what their chemistry was going to look like. With such a new team, and players from all over the world, Coach Kennedy said the Cowgirls planned things off the court to build chemistry on the court, and through one game he believes they were able to do just that.
“I think you can see it, I think it’s a different energy, it’s a different intensity, and like they (Cristina Gil, and Emilia Tenbrock) said, they were helping each other up, and yeah, some of our rotations need to be better but our talking was better today, and you could feel a better team unity I felt all the way around,” said Kennedy.
“We still have to work a lot, but as a first day, first game, I think there were some really great things that we can take away, but also some things we need to work on, and that’s what the first game is for. The chemistry at least outside is there, so I think we have to tweak a few things, but I don’t have any doubt about this team,” said Gil.
“You could see that we were picking each other up, when someone was down, or dribbled off their foot we would say ok, ok, let’s go next one, we have that confidence in each other that maybe that next shot is going to go in, and you’re going to do better next time,” said Tenbrock.
As a whole, the Pokes felt good about their first game, they acknowledged they have things to work on, but are pleased with how game one went.
“I loved the way that we started the game, I loved our intensity, our tempo, especially on the defense we were able to play full-court defense, we were able to get them in some traps, we still have to work on rotations, but I loved our fast break the way we started, and then we kind of settled into the game a little bit and it was up and down from there, but I continued to love our energy and our intensity, and you could see the chemistry with our team. Yeah we didn’t make some shots today, yes we missed some free throws, but I think overall, it’s the first game and you take away that and you can build on those things,” said Kennedy.
The Cowgirls now have a couple of days off before they return to the court on Sunday when they host Prairie View A&M at 3:00 in the Legacy Center.
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