March 20, 2014
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. –A great season for the Lamar Lady Cardinals came to a disappointing end Thursday night, as Lamar dropped a 75-60 decision at Southern Miss in the first round of the Women’s NIT.
JaMeisha Edwards had 19 points to lead Lamar (18-13), which was competing in a postseason national tournament for the fourth time in the past five years. Gia Ayers had 16 points and four assists in her final game in a Lamar uniform, while Kiandra Bowers added 10 points.
Southern Miss outscored Lamar 22-0 on fast-break points.
“We fought hard. We didn’t quit,” Lamar coach Robin Harmony said. “We’d get it close and they would go on a run. They can score in transition very quickly.”
Brittany Dinkins led Southern Miss (27-6) with 17 points. Jamierra Faulkner had a double-double of 14 points and 13 assists. Tamara Jones had 14 points for the Golden Eagles, while Markia Nix added 10 points. Faulkner’s 13 assists tied a WNIT record.
Southern Miss dominated inside, outscoring Lamar 52-24 in the paint.
“They are a good team,” Harmony said of Southern Miss. “They shoot well and play good defense.”
Southern Miss shot 56.9 percent (33-of-58) from the field. Lamar shot 35.8 percent (24-of-67).
The Golden Eagles entered the game with an RPI of 30, the best of the 64-team WNIT field.
“They are a good team that probably should have been in the NCAA Tournament,” Harmony said. “I think they are going to go deep in this tournament. But I think we showed we can play with the good teams. They knew they were in a battle tonight.”
“It’s disappointing to lose, but it doesn’t take away from a great season,” Harmony said. “Any time you go to the postseason, it’s a successful season. We’re going to learn from this and come back even better next year. We want to go to the NCAA Tournament.”
Ayers ends her Lamar career with 373 assists, putting her third on Lamar’s all-time list. Her 171 assists this season is the fifth-highest single-season total in program history.
Lamar loses four seniors from this year’s team: Ayers, Francesca Bellatin, Chantelle Brockett and Alice Robinson. The Lady Cardinals return four starters from this season’s squad: Caroline Adesulu, Kiandra Bowers, Dominique Edwards and JaMeisha Edwards.
“I’m excited about next year,” Harmony said. “We have some good players returning and we have a good group of incoming freshmen. I think the future looks bright.”