March 6, 2014
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BEAUMONT, Texas - The Lamar Lady Cardinals took care of business Thursday night as they moved into a tie for first place in the Southland Conference with a convincing 83-51 win over visiting New Orleans.
The Lady Cardinals (17-11 overall, 12-5 Southland) had five players score in double figures as coach Robin Harmony picked up her 150th career victory. More importantly, Lamar moved into a tie with Central Arkansas atop the Southland Conference standings after the Sugar Bears were throttled 77-45 at Northwestern State.
Lamar would earn the No. 1 seed for the Southland Conference Tournament with a win over Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday combined with a Central Arkansas loss at Stephen F. Austin. If Lamar and UCA both win Saturday, Central Arkansas would be the top seed, while Lamar would be the No. 2 seed. The top two teams receive byes into the Southland Conference Tournament semifinals.
"We just have to take care of business on Saturday," Harmony said. "Getting a bye into the semifinals would be huge. Our theme this week has been protect the nest. We did that today. We have to do it again Saturday."
Lamar had five players score in double figures against New Orleans, led by JaMeisha Edwards with 17 points. Shauna Long had 14 points off the bench; Gia Ayers had 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, while Dominique Edwards had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
New Orleans held an 11-6 lead with 15:33 remaining before broke things wide open with a 29-3 run over the next 12 minutes to virtually end all suspense.
"I thought we were in control from the beginning," Harmony said. "We knew New Orleans would make a run at us early, but we never let it get out of hand. We got a complete 40-minute effort tonight."
Lamar's defense pressured the Privateers (0-28, 0-17) into 23 turnovers, resulting in 28 Lamar points. JaMeisha Edwards had a career-high six steals for the Lady Cardinals.
Danielle Davis led New Orleans with 20 points, while Octavia Wilson added 10 points.
Now the regular season comes down to one game, as Lamar looks to grab at least a share of the conference crown for the first time since the 2009-10 season, when the Lady Cardinals shared the regular-season title with Stephen F. Austin and eventually advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
"We're going to enjoy this win tonight, but we're going to get ready for Southeastern Louisiana on Friday," Harmony said. "We don't want anybody to come into our house and come away with a win," especially on Senior Day."
Saturday's game against Southeastern Louisiana will start at 4 p.m. Prior to the game, the Lady Cardinals will honor four seniors: Ayers, Francesca Bellatin, Chantelle Brockett and Alice Robinson. The Lamar men will meet Southeastern Louisiana in the nightcap at 6 p.m.
For ticket information, call (409) 880-1715, or visit www.LamarCardinals.com.