WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Barrs earns A-plus for her D … defense

Published 12:09 am Friday, March 2, 2018

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT – Defense is a passion for Lamar junior guard Chastadie Barrs.

The native of DeSoto has a chance to make Southland Conference history by becoming the first three-time winner of the conference’s defensive player of the year award.

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“Ever since I started playing, I tried to find something to hang my hat on,” Barrs said. “In one game, the defense just came to me, I would steal the ball every time. Just knowing I have the skill and talent to do that, I want to keep that going. It’s something I’ve become known for.”

Barrs, who has also made a strong case to be named the Southland Conference’s women’s basketball player of the year this season, is etching her name in several spots in the record books of LU and the Southland Conference. She already holds the conference and school marks for career steals with 442, while her 177 steals this season are not only LU and SLC records, but just 14 shy of the NCAA

single-season standard of 191. She has at least one steal in all 88 games of her career.

Barrs’ efforts have helped the Cardinals (21-6 overall, 16-1 Southland) clinch the top seed in next week’s Southland Conference Tournament. They’ve also helped the Cardinals become one of the stingiest defensive teams in the SLC, limiting opponents to just 54.6 points per game.

As a result, the Cardinals are on a school-record 13-game winning streak and set the school record for conference wins in a season. The Cardinals can add to those numbers when they close the regular season at 1 p.m. Saturday with a road game at archrival McNeese State. A win over the Cowgirls would give the Cardinals the SLC regular-season title outright.

Barrs is the ringleader of a group that averages 17.5 steals per game as LU forces opponents to average more than 28 turnovers per game. The Cardinals are averaging 30.1 points per game in points off turnovers, while LU’s foes score 11.7 points per outing off LU turnovers.

“We create offense off our defense,” Harmony said. “Chas is a big reason for that. She’s either getting the steal, or she’s getting the assist, or she’s getting the points.”

The Cardinals have four players ranked in the top 130 in the nation in steals, as Jadyn Pimentel, Kiandra Bowers and Moe Kinard all average more than two steals per game.

“We feed off each other,” Bowers said. “We press teams for 40 minutes. We’re able to wear teams down because we’re in shape to play that kind of game.”

Lest one think that Barrs is just a defensive whiz, she also leads the conference with 181 assists, good for 17th in the nation, and an assist/turnover ratio of 2.13 assists for every turnover. She is also averaging a career-best 12.4 points per game this season, while grabbing an average of 5.4 rebounds per contest.

“I try to do my best on the offensive end as well as the defensive end,” Barrs said. “I get in the gym and get some shots up and work on my offensive game. I want to be strong on both ends of the floor to be successful past this part of my career.”

Her all-around game has resulted in a conference record four triple-doubles this season, one shy of the national lead and two shy of the NCAA record.

“She is the quarterback of our team. When she’s in, the team is calm,” LU coach Robin Harmony said of Barrs. “You look at her assist-to-turnover ratio, it’s incredible. She’s definitely the one who makes us go.”

Barrs enters Saturday’s game at McNeese with career totals of 919 points, 500 rebounds, 496 assists and 442 steals as she looks to become the first player in program history with at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds, assists and steals.

“Chas is so consistent. You know that she is going to show up every game and be a leader,” Harmony said. “She is going to get double-doubles or triple-doubles.”

And most importantly, the Cardinals are getting wins.

The Cardinals will celebrate their championship season with a net-cutting ceremony at 5 p.m. Sunday in the Montagne Center. There will be photo ops with the team, coaching staff and the 2018 Southland Conference championship trophy. In addition, members of the LU ticket office will be available for fans to purchase their tickets for the 2018 Southland Conference Tournament in Katy. Admission to Sunday’s event is free.