WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Cards tasked to protect nest from Demons

Published 6:17 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT — The Lamar Cardinals look to extend their winning streak at the Montagne Center to 26 games when they host the Northwestern State Lady Demons in a Southland Conference women’s basketball game at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The Cardinals (16-5 overall, 10-1 Southland) can officially clinch a berth in next month’s Southland Conference Tournament with a win combined with a Southeastern Louisiana loss to visiting Incarnate Word on Wednesday. LU enters the week in first place in the conference, a half-game ahead of Stephen F. Austin in the standings.

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LU brings a seven-game winning streak into Wednesday’s game. The Cards come off an emotional 79-65 win over visiting Stephen F. Austin on Saturday that vaulted LU over the Ladyjacks in the Southland Conference standings.

Now, LU faces a Northwestern State team that is fighting to stay in the hunt for one of the eight berths in the conference tournament. The Lady Demons (7-15, 2-9) have played better as of late, almost pulling off an upset of defending champion Central Arkansas last week before stunning New Orleans in a 52-47 win on Jan. 31.

Northwestern State, which is 0-4 in conference road games, is led by Nautica Grant, who averages 10.5 points per game. Libba Gilliam averages 10.2 points per game, including a team-leading average of 12.3 ppg in conference play.

LU coach Robin Harmony said she wouldn’t let the team get complacent after the big wins over Abilene Christian and Stephen F. Austin.

“I don’t think you have to worry about us being easy on the players,” Harmony said when asked about if she was worried about a letdown. “We’re going to take that intensity level and see if we can get it even higher. The more successful you are, the bigger the bull’s-eye gets, and that bull’s-eye is getting larger. We have to remind them and keep them humble.”

The Cardinals have used a balanced attack during their hot streak, as three different LU players in as many weeks were recognized as the Southland Conference player of the week. Kiandra Bowers is the latest LU player to receive the accolade, as she averaged 22.0 points, 16.5 rebounds and 4.0 steals in wins over Abilene Christian and Stephen F. Austin. Bowers, who is ninth on LU’s scoring list with 11,53 points and fifth in rebounds with 844, has a combined total of 1,997 points and rebounds, just three shy of becoming the sixth player in program history to have a combined total of 2,000 points plus rebounds.

Moe Kinard leads LU in scoring, averaging 16.4 ppg overall and 17.4 ppg in conference play. Chastadie Barrs averages 12.8 ppg for LU, while leading the nation in steals (6.48 per game) and the conference in assists (6.5 per game). Barrs, who already holds the LU and conference career record for steals with 401, has 136 steals this season, six shy of her own school and conference record of 142 set last season. The two-time SLC defensive player of the year has at least one steal in all 82 games in her career.

Northwestern State leads the overall series 37-16. In the only meeting last season, LU had four players in double figures in a 73-60 win over the Lady Demons at the Montagne Center. Kinard had 20 points for LU, while Bowers had a double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Wednesday’s game will be streamed live on ESPN3.


Wednesday’s contest is LU’s annual Play4Kay game, which honors legendary North Carolina State coach Kay Yow, who succumbed to cancer. It helps raise proceeds for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, whose goal is to eliminate women’s cancers. The Cardinals will wear special uniforms with pink trim. Fans will receive free pink T-shirts, courtesy of Neches Federal Credit Union, while supplies last. In addition to the Play4Kay events, the three members of LU’s senior class (Bowers, DeA’ngela Mathis and Baileigh O’Dell) will sign autographs after the game.