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Cards lose but still qualify for tournament

Lamar sports information

NACOGDOCHES – The Lamar Cardinals fell out of a tie for first place in the Southland Conference, but still locked up a berth in next month’s conference tournament.

The Cardinals couldn’t recover from a bad third quarter as they dropped a 74-66 decision to the host Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks in a SLC women’s basketball game Saturday.

LU (17-6, overall, 10-3 Southland) fell into fourth place in the conference, a game behind Central Arkansas and a half-game behind SFA and Abilene Christian with five games remaining. The Cardinals clinched their tournament berth when Sam Houston State upset Houston Baptist.

The Cardinals shot 50 percent from the field (14 of 28) in the first half as the teams went into intermission tied at 32. LU struggled from the field in the third quarter, connecting on just four of its 20 shots as SFA (19-4, 10-2) outscored LU 26-14 in the period to take a 58-46 lead into the fourth quarter.

LU cut the lead to 60-56 with 6:39 remaining in the fourth quarter before SFA scored the next six points to take a 66-56 lead with 3:55 remaining. The Cardinals would get no closer than seven points the rest of the way. LU was 26 of 69 (37.7 percent) from the field for the game, including a 5-of-20 (25 percent) effort from three-point range.

Chastadie Barrs matched her season high with 16 points to lead the Cardinals. Moe Kinard had 15 points, Ashlan Miles had 10 points, while Kiandra Bowers recorded her fourth straight double-double and 14th of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

SFA had four players in double figures, led by Taylor Ross, who had 15 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. Stevi Parker had 11 points and 14 rebounds, Adrienne Lewis had 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Brentney Branch added 10 points for SFA.

SFA outrebounded LU 52-38, but the Cardinals did a good job limiting the Ladyjacks on second-chance points, as each team finished with 13.

UP NEXT

The Cardinals have two more contests remaining on their three-game road swing. LU is at Houston Baptist at 7 p.m. Wednesday before traveling to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 2 p.m. Feb. 18. The Cardinals return home to host Houston Baptist at 2 p.m. Feb. 25.

IT TAKES A THIEF

Barrs had two steals Saturday, giving her at least one steal in all 54 games in her career. Barrs’ 104 assists this season are the fourth-highest single-season total in program history.

TOURNEY TIME

LU will make its 12th straight appearance in the Southland Conference Tournament. The tourney is scheduled for March 9-12 at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy. It’s the 10th consecutive year that venue is hosting the tourney.

CLOSE SHAVE

Saturday’s final score marked the first time this season the Cardinals played a game where the final margin was less than 10 points.