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Cowgirls to play in Tulane Classic this weekend

Last Modified: Friday, December 28, 2012 7:37 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

It’s back to work for the Cowgirls.

After taking time off for the holidays, the McNeese State women’s basketball team jumps right back into the deep end of the pool with a pair of games this weekend at the Tulane Classic in New Orleans.

The Cowgirls (4-5) have had a tough schedule in the early going with a lot of travel. That continues Saturday when they open tourney play against Ole Miss.

The Lady Rebels (6-5) will be the third SEC team the Cowgirls have played this season.

“It is a tough schedule, one with a lot of travel,” said McNeese head coach Brooks Donald Williams. “I do think that is good for us, especially as a young team. We have learned how to play against tough teams. I think that will help.”

With under a week to go before the two-time defending Southland Conference champs open league play, Donald Williams hopes the Tulane tournament can get them back into the swing of things. McNeese hasn’t played since losing a lead late to LSU on Dec. 21. In fact, with finals and the holiday break, the Cowgirls have played just three games since Dec. 1, all on the road. They did have an exhibition game at home during that time, but that’s been it.

“I think playing games in back-to-back days against good competition will help us,” Donald Williams said. “Coming off the break you don’t really want to have your first game to be in a league match. You want to get the feel back to playing.

“We have come a long way with a young team, so you want to see just how it will play out, especially some of the younger, inexperienced kids.”

The Cowgirls will play Sunday against either Tulane (8-2) or Eastern Michigan (2-8).

“If you look at all three of those teams on tape, they play physical,” Donald Williams said. “That will be good for our team to go up against physical teams while getting ready for league.”

McNeese hopes to break a 3-game losing streak when it takes on Ole Miss.

The last time the Cowgirls were in a game they fell to LSU in Baton Rouge despite leading most of the contest. Foul trouble proved costly as McNeese had four players foul out against the Tigers.

Still, McNeese played well enough to win.

“That was the best our young kids have played all year,” Donald Williams said. “I think that gives us a lot of confidence. We feel pretty good about how we left things for the break. Now we have to just pick up from there.”

That was the first game back for Alaina Verdin, who scored 15 points in her return from a knee injury. She also gave the Cowgirls added experience on the floor.

“Her coming in and playing so strong so fast is a big boost to us,” Donald Williams said. “It gives us another player we can count on who has been a big part of the program and knows what we are trying to do.”

Ole Miss will be led by its guards, Diara Moore and Valencia McFarland. The two are the only Lady Rebels who average in double-digits in scoring at 12.1 and 10.2 respectively.

The Cowgirls are led by the Baggett twins, Ashlyn and Caitlyn. The pair of seniors average 15.8 and 15.3 respectively.

McNeese State will open Southland play on the road Thursday at Northwestern State.

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