Special to the Commercial/William Harvey
Arkansas-Pine Bluff freshman Cassidy Wright goes up for a lay-up during a practice at H.O. Clemmons Arena on Wednesday. The Lady Lions will host Texas Southern on Saturday.
The Arkansas Pine Bluff Lady Lions have come a long way since last year and a lot of it has to do with a new head coach in Nate Kilbert and a standout freshman.
After winning just one game last year, the Lady Lions have already won six this season, including two games in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Cassidy Wright, a freshman from Flint, Mich., is one of the reasons why the Lady Lions are playing so well as she averages about 11 points per game.
“I think I am doing good at that,” Wright said. “I like the fact that we are still playing as a team.
“The scoring will come. I will just take a chance and run with it I guess.”
UAPB defeated Alcorn State 50-41 on Monday to improve to 6-9 and 2-3 in the conference. Wright scored 12 points in the win on 4 of 13 shooting and two three-pointers.
“Cassidy is doing a great job for us,” Kilbert said. “We knew she had the talent to do some of the things she is doing.
“We didn’t know how well she was going to buy-in to what we wanted her to do coming, but I’m not surprised at how well she is playing.”
In Monday’s game, Christian Lasane led the team with 13 points and Chi Chi Okwumbua contributed with 12 points.
Despite being a freshman, Wright said he hasn’t felt any sort of pressure.
“There is not a lot of pressure, not like I thought there would be,” Wright said. “I’m glad there isn’t a lot of pressure, but I wish there was to get me going even more.”
Kilbert led Mississippi Valley State to last year’s league championship and was named the SWAC coach of the year.
The Lady Lions played Valley in their first conference game of the season and lost 71-64 at home. Wright scored 12 points but turned the ball over eight times.
“In the non-conference games, I don’t think they were expecting a freshman to come out there and score,” Wright said. “But Valley did their stuff and looked at me and said, ‘Oh, we got to stop her.’
“And that slowed me down a bit. I got to get used to that.”
Kilbert said Cassidy’s ball-handling skills is one thing he would like to see improve by next year.
“I’d like to see her take care of the ball a little better,” Kilbert said. “She is shooting and her decision making is pretty good.
“She is about where we expected her to be as a freshman.”