WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Well-rested Cardinals two wins away from NCAAs

Published 7:51 pm Friday, March 9, 2018

KATY — The Lamar Cardinals knew when and where they will be playing next. Friday afternoon they found out who they would be playing.

The Cardinals (22-6 overall, 17-1 Southland Conference), who are the No. 1 seed in the Southland Conference Tournament, will face the fourth-seeded Nicholls State Colonels in the tournament semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy. LU, which received an automatic berth in the semifinals as the top seed, faces Nicholls (17-13, 11-7) for the second time this season. The Cardinals were 76-61 winners at Nicholls on Jan. 24.

Nicholls, which had a first-round bye, held on for a 61-59 win over fifth-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Friday’s second-round game. Saturday’s other semifinal sees second-seeded Stephen F. Austin taking on third-seeded Central Arkansas at 3:30 p.m.

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The tournament’s championship game is scheduled for noon Sunday.

LU has been idle since Saturday when it ended the regular season with an 81-72 victory at McNeese State to secure the outright title. LU coach Robin Harmony hopes the added rest will prove to be beneficial for the Cardinals.

“It’s good to have the two byes because you’re guaranteed to be in the semifinals,” Harmony said. “You can give your kinds a couple of days off that normally you can’t do. At this point of the season, an hour and a half of practice; in and out. We already know what everyone is going to do.  We know our stuff. It’s to stay fresh and stay in shape.”

The Cardinals, who were outright Southland Conference regular-season champions for the first time in program history, are making their 13th straight appearance in the SLC Tournament as they seek their first tourney title since 2010. LU is just one two teams, joining Stephen F. Austin, who have been in the tournament every season since the conference moved the tourney to Katy.

“I think that speaks well for our program,” Harmony said. “We try to put out a good product every season. That’s a credit to everyone involved.”

The Cardinals are guaranteed to be going to a national postseason tournament for the third time in Harmony’s five seasons at LU. Winning the conference tournament would give LU an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. If the Cardinals are not selected for the NCAA Tournament, they are assured of a spot in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament as a result of being the conference’s regular-season champion.

“We don’t have to worry about seeing if we’re going to a tournament,” Harmony said. “The NCAA and WNIT are both prestigious tournaments. It is a relief to know that we are going somewhere.”


The Cardinals and Colonels have met 39 times, with LU winning 24 of those contests.


All LU postseason games will be broadcast on KLVI-AM 560, with Harold Mann providing the play-by-play. Saturday’s semifinal game will be streamed online on ESPN3. Sunday’s championship game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network (DirecTV 221, Dish Network 158, Verizon Fios 94 and 594, Spectrum 315).


Tickets are available on game day at the Merrell Center. LU fans who purchase game-day tickets at the Merrell Center are encouraged to purchase their tickets from the LU ticket window.