(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, October 29, 2012 10:46 PM
There was more drama than usual for an exhibition opener, but the McNeese State Cowgirls pulled away in the final 10 minutes of a 76-61 win over NAIA Wiley College Monday night.
Ashlyn Baggett led the Cowgirls with 21 points, including 17 in the first half. Caitlyn Baggett added 18 points and seven assists and junior college transfer Arianna James scored 11. Kyniddia Purdy led Wiley with 11 points.
The Wildcats were within 37-33 at halftime and briefly took the lead midway through the second half at 50-48, but the Cowgirls responded with a 14-4 run to take control.
The three Baggett sisters jump-started the decisive run. Caitlyn scored on a drive to tie the game, Ashlyn made a pair of free throws to give the Cowgirls the lead and Allison, a freshman and the younger sister of twins Caitlyn and Ashlyn, followed with a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to five.
Allison had two steals during the run and finished with eight points and five rebounds. McNeese outscored Wiley 28-8 off turnovers in the game.
“Our press was really effective,” said Cowgirls head coach Brooks Donald Williams. “Allison came off the bench to give us a spark. We played a little more intensity and urgency defensively and that led to some points for us.”
Ashlyn made 6 of 8 shots in the first half, including all three 3-point attempts.
“It just happened to be what they were giving us, I was getting the ball with a chance to penetrate,” she said. “Everyone was doing a good job, it just so happened I was the one that ended up scoring.”
Ashlyn, a senior, was impressed by Allison’s debut.
“It was strange, I had never gotten to do that (play with both sisters),” she said. “She did very well defensively, especially on the press. It was great playing with all of my teammates tonight.”
Donald Williams said the game being tight for so long could benefit the team.
“I thought it was a great lesson for us,” she said. "Hats off to Wiley, they played extremely hard and shot the ball well, particularly in the first half. They did some good things. We did not do a good job of controlling the paint or securing rebounds. That is concerning.
“A positive that we learned is that Ash and Cait’s toughness is as good as any. They rallied the troops at the end. Newcomer
Arianna James did a really good job in her debut. She has that passion like Ash and Cait and that tough work ethic.”
James said she is looking to make an impact on defense, where she had a team-high four steals.
“It was a good first game, but we still have a lot to work on,” she said. “I think I helped the team defensively, I was able to get some steals. Defense is my best thing, I like being the one to stop the other team’s best player.”