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Cowgirls take more than just wins from road trip

Last Modified: Wednesday, December 04, 2013 9:23 AM

By Albert Burford / American Press

Even though they didn’t get to celebrate Thanksgiving at home, last week was a good one for the McNeese State women’s basketball team.

The Cowgirls got their first two road wins of the season, lost by nine to Georgia Tech and even found some time to visit Times Square and catch a Broadway play while in New York. Head coach Brooks Donald Williams said, while the games were important, the team-building aspect of the trip was also key to a successful trip.

“I’ve always said it’s good to travel early because girls really have to have that bonding,” Donald Williams said. “We’ve been on two-day trips to Tulane and Texas Southern. When it’s overnight, you have time to get to know each other and feel good about each other. I thought it was great bonding for us and I feel like that had to do with our play.”

The Cowgirls started the trip with a 69-62 win against Fairleigh Dickinson, led by a 21-point effort from freshman guard Victoria Rachal. McNeese notched back-to-back wins for the first time this season after it topped Long Island, 71-57, in the LIU Turkey Classic. The Cowgirls dominated, holding a 24-point lead at five occasions of the game.

The Cowgirls advanced to the championship game against Georgia Tech Saturday, with the Yellow Jackets winning 69-60.

“The kids are improving defensively,” Donald Williams said. “We defended really well at times the whole week, especially against Long Island and Georgia Tech. There were times in the Georgia Tech game that we really had some good, competitive basketball. Really, the game was a good, competitive game, but there were times where we locked them down. I thought they did a fantastic job of guarding really talented players on Georgia Tech’s team.”

Off the court, the Cowgirls had a chance to see “Annie,” and see some sights in the Big Apple.

“It was really cool,” said guard Allison Baggett. “It was different for me especially. I’m a little country girl, so I’ve never seen a big city like that. We all enjoyed seeing the pretty sights and scenes from movies.”

Donald Williams said the team remained focused despite all the distractions in the city.

Now McNeese (4-3) awaits a trio of home games against in-state teams, starting with a matchup against Louisiana-Monroe (2-3) on Dec. 11.

The Cowgirls had Monday and Tuesday off and are balancing basketball with final exams.

“It’s not hard to keep focus (during the break in games),” said forward Cecilia Okoye. “I like when we get back-to-back games, but this just gives us a longer time to get better. … Our defense was great in the Georgia Tech game, but we want to touch up on our defense because there’s always room to improve.”

Donald Williams said she’s eager to see how the team comes out of the break, but hopes the Cowgirls can handle it maturely.

“I told them, ‘We’ve got a break, we’re going to have some days off, so let’s come back from those days ready to go and ready to pick up where we left off at the buzzer at the Georgia Tech game,’” Donald Williams said. “That’s what it’s about now, is finding consistency. As much as the kids love to keep playing games, coaches know we have to practice too and improve on our weaknesses.”

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