New meets old, young Cowgirls introduced to ULL rivalry

For the young Cowgirls everything is a new experience.

Several of the McNeese State players even got their first taste of an American Thanksgiving Thursday as first-year head coach Lynn Kennedy recruited more than a few freshmen from oversees.

They will get a chance to experience a real rivalry when the Cowgirls host Louisiana-Lafayette at Burton Coliseum. Tip-off for the Interstate 10 battle is set for 2 p.m. today. ULL is led by former McNeese assistant Garry Brodhead.

“I see what McNeese is doing over there,” Brodhead said. “They are turning things around.”

But few of the Cowgirls have experienced a game against the rival Ragin’ Cajuns, who have won the last six meetings.

“I will let them know what to expect,” McNeese junior forward Divine Tanks said. “It will be a different type of atmosphere for sure.”

Tanks should know, she grew up around the rivalry, starting at Barbe High School before heading to McNeese.

“It is a fun game,” Tanks said. “Our crowd gets into this game.”

It is also personal for Tanks. She played with Cajun guard Brandi Williams in high school. Williams leads Lafayette in scoring at 15.3 points a game but has missed the last two. That includes a 54-52 win over Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday night.

“They are a good team,” Kennedy said of the 4-1 Cajuns. “They have talent, play strong inside and can cause you a lot of problems.

“This is a really good challenge for us. We want to upgrade our schedule and our profile both locally and nationally. This will be a good test for us.”

The Cajuns’ lone loss came at home against LSU. They are 2-0 against Southland Conference teams this season.

“They have played a couple of teams in our league and that will give us some early insight into the season,” Kennedy said. “We are getting better and better every time out. We want to put our kids in these types of games because we want to play in big games later in the year.”

McNeese (3-2) is looking for a winning record entering December for the first time since 2016. The Cowgirls were 3-3 in 2017 during November, which is the worst they can be this season.

“We want to change the culture around here,” Kennedy said. “You have to do that by playing well in these games.”

Freshman Kaili Chamberlin is coming off a huge game. The guard from Oregon scored a career-high 29 points Wednesday in a victory over Centenary. That doubled Chamberlin’s season point total.

She leads McNeese’s balanced attack with 11.6 points a game.

“We are getting some confidence as we play together,” Chamberlin said.

McNeese has hit on at least 10 3-point shots in three games, including a school-record 17 in their home opener against Southwestern Assemblies of God. The Cowgirls are averaging 14 3-pointers in their two home games.

“We have shot the ball well at the start of this season,” Kennedy said. “I liken the three in our game to the dunk in the men’s game. It gets the crowd going.

“We are going to take our shots and we will have to hit our share against the good teams.”

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