Harmony on Baylor: ‘Whole different level’

Published 5:22 pm Thursday, November 9, 2017

Lamar sports information

WACO – Last season, the Lamar Cardinals opened their season at 17th-ranked Oregon State. This year’s season opener looks to be even more daunting.

The Cardinals tip off the 2017-18 campaign when they travel to Waco to meet the third-ranked Baylor Bears at 7 p.m. Friday.

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“Baylor is a whole different level,” LU coach Robin Harmony said. “They are definite contenders for a national championship. This will definitely be a tough test.”

The Cardinals, who went 22-8 overall and 15-3 in the Southland Conference last season, are the preseason favorites to win the conference title this season. But they will have their hands full with a Baylor squad that went 33-4 last season, falling in overtime to Mississippi State in the Elite Eight.

The Cardinals are 2-8 all-time against Baylor. The teams last met on Nov. 9, 2012, with Baylor claiming an 80-34 win on its home floor. LU’s last win over the Lady Bears was on Dec. 7, 1988, with the Cardinals thrilling the Montagne Center faithful with a 77-36 victory.

This year’s version of the Cardinals is led by a trio of first-team preseason All-Southland Conference selections in junior guard Chastadie Barrs, graduate senior post Kiandra Bowers and junior guard Moe Kinard. Barrs, who led the nation with a school and Southland Conference record 142 steals last season, has at least one steal in all 61 games of her career. Bowers, who had 17 double-doubles last season, led the nation in offensive rebounding last season, averaging 5.97 per game. Kinard, the Southland Conference’s newcomer of the year last season after transferring from Houston, led LU in scoring, averaging 15.3 points per game.

Last season, the Cardinals competed in the Women’s Basketball Invitational, LU’s fifth appearance in a national postseason tournament in the last eight years.

Baylor returns two starters from last season, including 6-foot-7 All-American center Kalani Brown, who averaged 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per outing in 2016-17.

The Cardinals are slated to return to Beaumont following the game as they prepare for the home opener against Louisiana College at 7 p.m. Monday in the Montagne Center.