#1 seed Lamar Women fall to #4 Nicholls in SLC Tourney Semifinals

NICHOLLS vs LU WOMENS HOOPS.jpg

KATY, Texas – Kiandra Bowers recorded her 12th double-double of the season and 36th of her career, but the Lamar University Cardinals saw their hopes of a Southland Conference Tournament title end with a heartbreaking 74-68 loss to the Nicholls Colonels in the semifinals on Saturday.

The top-seeded Cardinals (22-7), who saw their school-record 14-game winning streak snapped, couldn’t overcome a frigid start to the third quarter that saw fourth-seeded Nicholls (18-13) score the first 17 points of the second half to turn LU’s 38-30 lead at halftime into a 47-38 Nicholls advantage.

“It’s disappointing because we didn’t play the way we were capable of,” LU coach Robin Harmony said. “We had great fan support. It was set up perfectly for us. It’s nobody’s fault but Lamar’s.”

The Cardinals led 21-11 after the first quarter, closing the period on a 13-3 run after the media timeout. Baileigh O’Dell gave the Cardinals a spark off the bench after the timeout, draining a pair of 3-pointers during the run.

Nicholls cut the LU lead to three points in the second quarter, but Moe Kinard hit a pair of big shots and Chastadie Barrs was 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the period to help LU take a 38-30 lead into intermission.

Bowers ended Nicholls’ 17-0 run to start the third quarter when she put in a rebound while being fouled and sank the ensuing free throw to cut the deficit to six points at 47-41. The Colonels led 57-47 heading into the final quarter.

“I told our team to just keep chipping away at the lead because there was no 10-point play,” Harmony said. “We did that in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, we ran out of time.”

The Cardinals did what Harmony asked, and began to chip away at the lead, tying the game at 68 on an O’Dell 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining. That would end the scoring for the Cardinals, however, as LU missed its last four field-goal attempts and turned the ball over once in the final minute.

Bowers had 14 points to go along with a game-high 18 rebounds, 12 of them on the offensive end. Moe Kinard had 21 points, while O’Dell had 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range.

Bowers moved past Trashanna Smith into second place on LU’s all-time rebounding chart with 934. Meanwhile, O’Dell moved into a tie for second with Brenda Hatchett on LU’s career 3-point list with 181.

Barrs finished with seven points, eight rebounds, nine assists and two steals. Barrs pushed her season total to 188 steals, three shy of the NCAA record of 191 set by Natalie White of Florida A&M in the 1994-95 season.

Cassidy Barrios, the Southland Conference player of the year, led Nicholls with 27 points. Tykeria Williams had a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Tia Charles also had 17 points for the Colonels.

Nicholls, which advanced to the SLC Tournament finals for the first time, will meet second-seeded Stephen F. Austin in the championship game at noon Sunday. SFA advanced with a 70-60 win over third-seeded Central Arkansas in Saturday’s other semifinal.

Despite the loss, the season isn’t over the Cardinals, who are guaranteed a spot in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Tournament pairings will be announced Monday evening, with first-round games set for Wednesday through Friday. It will be LU’s sixth appearance in a national postseason tournament in the last nine years.

“We’ll go back and regroup,” Harmony said. “We’ve still got some basketball left to be played. This will be a good experience for the players, and should help us for next season. We have a bright future.”

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