WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Cards in striking distance of first place

Published 4:35 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT — The Lamar Cardinals have an opportunity to make an emphatic statement this week as they host Abilene Christian and Stephen F. Austin in a pair of Southland Conference women’s basketball games in the Montagne Center.

LU (13-6 overall, 8-1 Southland) takes on Abilene Christian (13-6, 7-2) at 7 p.m. Wednesday before facing conference-leading Stephen F. Austin (16-3, 8-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Cardinals enter the week in second place, a half-game behind SFA, while Abilene Christian is 1.5 games out of first place.

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“It’s definitely the biggest week of the year for us,” LU coach Robin Harmony said. “You have to take it game by game and the first one is up Wednesday.”

The Cardinals are 8-0 at home this season and have won a school-record 23 straight home games dating back to the start of last season. LU is outscoring its visiting foes by an average of 41.9 points per game this season. The biggest deficit the Cardinals have faced at the Montagne Center this season is three points.

LU brings a five-game winning streak into Wednesday’s contest. The Cardinals are led offensively by Moe Kinard, the reigning Southland Conference player of the week, who is averaging 17.3 points per game overall and 19.2 ppg in conference play. Kinard averaged 26.0 ppg and 6.5 rebounds per game in victories over Nicholls and McNeese last week.

LU’s Chastadie Barrs continues to lead the nation in steals, averaging 6.68 per game. The junior guard has at least one steal in all 80 games she has played in her career. Barrs, who is second on the team in scoring at 13.1 ppg, leads the conference in assists with an average of 6.4 per contest.

Senior DeA’ngela Mathis, who is averaging 11.1 points per game for LU, has stepped it up in conference play, averaging 16.2 ppg.

“When we recruited DeA’ngela as a junior college All-American, we knew she was this player,” Harmony said. “It took her last year to make that adjustment. She’s not a secret anymore. She’ll be one of the players who gets accolades at the end of the season.”

Wednesday’s game features a pair of potent offenses. The Cardinals lead the SLC, averaging 79.5 ppg, while the Wildcats are third at 73.6 ppg. Breanna Wright leads ACU in scoring, averaging 13.2 ppg overall and 15.7 ppg against SLC competition.

The Wildcats rely heavily on the long-distance shooting, averaging 9.1 three-pointers per game, good for 13th in the nation. The Wildcats lead the Southland Conference in rebounding, grabbing an average of 6.8 more rebounds per game than their opponents.

“They’re a good-shooting team,” Harmony said of the Wildcats. “We have to pressure them and not let them hit their 3-pointers. We have to box out. We have to play solidly for the entire game.”

LU has a 4-2 lead in the all-time series with ACU. Last season, ACU rallied from a 36-35 halftime deficit for a 77-59 win at ACU. The last time the teams met at the Montagne Center was on Feb. 4, 2016, with the Cardinals posting a 64-53 victory. LU is 2-0 against the Wildcats at the Montagne Center.

“Hopefully we can get a nice crowd out here to support us and get that sixth man going for us,” Harmony said. “Teams are aware of our record at home and they want to end that streak. Our fans are definitely an advantage for us.”

Wednesday’s game will be streamed live on ESPN3.



Wednesday’s game will feature a student-organization challenge with a $250 cash prize being awarded based on spirit, creativity and attendance. Following the game, there will be an autograph session with the juniors on this season’s roster.