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Semifinal berth at stake for LU women

Southland Conference basketball standings

WOMEN

Conf. Over.

Central Arkansas 15-2 23-4

Abilene Christian 15-2 21-8

Lamar 14-3 21-6

Stephen F. Austin 13-4 22-6

New Orleans 9-8 14-13

McNeese State 8-9 13-15

Northwestern State 7-10 13-15

TAMU-Corpus Christi 7-10 11-17

Incarnate Word 7-10 9-19

Nicholls State 6-11 9-19

Houston Baptist 4-13 6-21

Sam Houston State 3-14 3-24

SE Louisiana 3-15 5-24

MEN

Conf. Over.

New Orleans 12-5 17-11

TAMU-Corpus Christi 11-6 18-10

Houston Baptist 11-6 16-12

Stephen F. Austin 11-6 16-13

Sam Houston State 10-7 19-11

Lamar 9-8 17-13

SE Louisiana 9-9 16-15

Nicholls State 7-10 14-16

Abilene Christian 7-10 13-15

Incarnate Word 7-10 12-18

Central Arkansas 7-10 8-22

Northwestern State 6-11 12-16

McNeese State 4-13 7-21

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT – The Lamar Cardinals look to wrap up a bye into the Southland Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament semifinals when they close out the regular season at McNeese State at 1 p.m. today at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.

The Cardinals (21-6 overall, 14-3 Southland) can clinch a bye into the semifinals with a win Saturday or if Stephen F. Austin loses at home to Sam Houston State. LU would earn the top seed with a win and a Central Arkansas loss at Northwestern State. LU, which has already earned a first-round bye, can enter the tournament as no worse than the No. 3 seed.

LU brings a four-game winning streak into today’s game. Most recently, the Cardinals completed a 15-0 season at home with an 81-77 victory over Nicholls on Saturday. It was LU’s first perfect season at home since the 2009-10 season, when the Cardinals captured the regular-season and conference tournament titles en route to receiving an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

McNeese (13-15, 8-9 Southland) needs a win to clinch the No. 5 seed in the tournament. With a loss, the Cowgirls can be seeded anywhere from fifth to seventh in the eight-team field depending on the results of today’s other contests.

Should the Cardinals be one of the top two seeds, they would play their first game of the tournament March 11 at either 1 p.m., if they are the top seed, or 3:30 p.m,. if they are the second seed. If LU goes into the tourney as the No. 3 seed, the Cards would play their first game at 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 10. The championship game is set for noon March 12. All games are at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy.

LU sophomore guard Chastadie Barrs has 128 steals this season, four shy of the school record set by Ramona Jones in the 1990-91 campaign. Barrs, who leads the nation in steals, averaging 4.74 per game, has at least one steal in all 58 games in her career.

LU sophomore guard Moe Kinard, who is up for consideration as the conference’s Newcomer of the Year after transferring to LU from Houston, leads the Cardinals in scoring at 15.4 points per game. Senior post Kiandra Bowers averages 14.6 points and a team-best 10.5 rebounds per game.  Bowers is 20th in the nation in total rebounding while leading the nation in offensive rebounds at 6.00 per game.

Today’s contest is the second of the season between the squads. LU was a 79-57 winner over McNeese at the Montagne Center on Feb. 4, as Bowers led the way with 30 points and 12 rebounds. McNeese leads the all-time series 43-29.

LU, McNEESE MEN CLOSE REGULAR SEASON WITH RIVALRY

BEAUMONT – Southland rivals Lamar (17-13, 9-8 Southland) and McNeese State will square for the second time this season in the 2016-17 regular-season finale.

A series that saw its 100th meeting earlier this season, the rivals meet at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Cardinals – having locked up a spot in the Southland Championships on Thursday evening – are looking to lock down the No. 6 overall seed, while the Cowboys are looking for a series split and bragging rights.

Currently sixth in the SLC standings, just a half game up on Southeastern Louisiana, the Cardinals have won two of the past three games and are coming off an impressive 12-point victory over Nicholls State. LU needs a victory Saturday to wrap up the No. 6 overall seed due to the fact that Southeastern Louisiana wrapped up its regular season Thursday with an upset of league-leading New Orleans. Should LU finish tied with the Lions, SLU would own the tiebreak over the Cardinals.

The Cowboys (7-21, 4-13 SLC) have struggled down the stretch dropping seven straight, and 10 of its last 11 entering today’s contest. McNeese is coming off a strong performance Thursday night that saw the Cowboys fall just short in their upset bid of preseason favorite Sam Houston State, dropping a five-point decision. McNeese enters its regular-season finale 13th in the league standings, two games back of Northwestern State.

The series against the Cowboys is the longest in LU history, with the Cardinals owning a 53-47 (.530) advantage. The Cardinals took the opening meeting with a 77-57 victory in Beaumont earlier this season. LU has struggled historically on the road against the Cowboys posting a 15-31 (.313) record, but enter today’s contest looking to record consecutive road wins for the first time since the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons. The Cardinals are also in search of their first series sweep over the Cowboys since 1993-94.

The Cardinals will be looking to get a similar effort on the glass from the first meeting against the Cowboys. During the first meeting a month ago, the Cardinals nearly doubled up McNeese on the glass outrebounding the Cowboys, 52-27. Led by junior Colton Weisbrod’s game-high 14 rebounds, he was one of seven Cardinals who pulled down at least four rebounds.

Today’s game will tip off no earlier than 3 p.m. (or 30 minutes following the conclusion of the women’s game) from Burton Coliseum. It can also be heard live on Newstalk 560 KLVI.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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