WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Lamar clinches first outright Southland championship

Published 6:32 pm Saturday, March 3, 2018

Lamar sports information

LAKE CHARLES – The Lamar Cardinals are outright Southland Conference women’s basketball champions.

The Cardinals (22-6 overall, 17-1 Southland) claimed the outright SLC title for the first time in program history with an 81-72 victory Saturday over the host McNeese State Cowgirls in the final women’s basketball game ever played in Burton Coliseum.

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LU claimed Southland Conference co-championships in the 2009-10 and 2013-14 seasons, sharing the title with Stephen F. Austin both times, but there would be no sharing this year.

“These players wanted it for themselves,” LU coach Robin Harmony said. “It was a matter of pride. Going 17-1 in conference play is quite an accomplishment.”

LU used a balanced attack, as four players finished in double figures in the scoring column, led by Kiandra Bowers, who posted her 35th career double-double, finishing with 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Chastadie Barrs and Baileigh O’Dell had 14 points apiece for LU, while Moe Kinard added 10 points.

“We were rushing our shot. It seemed like we were trying too hard,” Harmony said. “But Kiandra stayed steady. She was 7-of-10 and got some big rebounds, and Baileigh came off the bench and hit some daggers.”

The Cardinals, who led 20-15 after the first quarter, opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run over the first 3:30 of the frame to increase their lead to 29-15. LU kept it up throughout the rest of the quarter, taking a 45-26 lead into intermission.

McNeese (12-17, 8-10) refused to go away. The Cowgirls got to within five points of the Cardinals in the fourth quarter, but LU made sure nobody was stopping its championship celebration.

“We knew they were going to be tough,” Harmony said of the Cowgirls. “It was their Senior Day. They were motivated. It’s never easy to come here.”

O’Dell went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line, making each of her last four attempts down the stretch to help seal the win. The senior also hit a crucial three-pointer as she moved into third place on the LU all-time list with 177.

Barrs finished with six assists and nine steals to go along with her 14 points. She now has 502 assists in her career, becoming just the second player in the 49-year history of the program to reach the 500 mark in assists for a career. Her nine steals boosted her season total to 186, just five shy of the NCAA single-season mark of 191 set by Natalie White of Florida A&M in the 1994-95 season.

Dede Sheppard led McNeese with 23 points. Caitlin Davis had 18 points for the Cowgirls, while Keara Hudnall finished with 17 points, thanks in large part to a 5-for-10 effort from three-point land. Overall, McNeese was 10-of-24 (41.7 percent) from downtown.

“Give them credit, they hit some big three-pointers,” Harmony said of the Cowgirls. “It was a battle, but we came out on top.”


The Cardinals will have a net-cutting ceremony at 5 p.m. Sunday in the Montagne Center. There will be photo opportunities with the LU players and coaching staff along with the Southland Conference championship trophy. All fans are encouraged to attend the event, which is free and open to the public.

“We’re hoping to see a lot of our fans there,” Harmony said. “Winning a championship is special, and I know the players are looking forward to cutting down the net. They’ve worked hard for it, and they deserve the opportunity to do it in front of our fans.”

The top-seeded Cardinals will play at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Southland Conference Tournament semifinals at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy. The championship game is scheduled for noon March 11.


All LU postseason games will be broadcast on KLVI-AM 560, with Harold Mann providing the play-by-play. Saturday’s semifinals will be on ESPN3. The championship game will be televised by the CBS Sports Network.


Ticket booklets to the Southland Conference Tournament in Katy are now on sale at the Montagne Center ticket office. The women’s tournament runs from March 8-11. LU’s first game is set for 1 p.m. March 10. The men’s tournament starts March 7 and ends March 10. Tickets may be purchased online at www.LamarCardinals.com. Representatives from the LU ticket office will also be on hand during Sunday’s net-cutting ceremony for those wishing to purchase tickets in advance.