Women's hoops heads to Southland semifinals

GO CARDINALS The postseason accolades keep rolling in for Gia Ayers.
GO CARDINALS
The postseason accolades keep rolling in for Gia Ayers.
GO CARDINALS

March 13, 2014

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BEAUMONT, Texas - The trophy for winning a share of this season's Southland Conference women's basketball regular-season title sits in the office of Lamar coach Robin Harmony. She'd like to add another piece of hardware to that collection come Sunday afternoon.

"I want the tournament championship trophy. I'd like bookends," Harmony said before heading out to practice as the Lady Cardinals prepared for their appearance in Saturday's semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament in Katy, Texas. "Our goal is to win the tournament."

The Lady Cardinals (18-11 overall, 13-5 Southland), shared the regular-season crown with Stephen F. Austin, but Lamar clinched the top seed by virtue of a tiebreaker with the Ladyjacks.

Lamar takes to the court at the Merrell Center at noon Saturday to face the winner of Friday's quarterfinal contest between fourth-seeded Northwestern State (18-12, 11-7) and fifth-seeded Nicholls (17-13, 11-7). Nicholls opened the tourney with a 77-66 win over No. 8 seed Oral Roberts in a first-round game Thursday...

"It doesn't matter who we play, we have to play our game. We have to play Lamar basketball," Harmony said. "Our top players have to perform big time. They have to be PTPers if we are to win."

Harmony was referring to first-team All-Southland guard Gia Ayers, second-team forward Dominique Edwards and guard JaMeisha Edwards, who Harmony thought was deserving of being named to the all-conference squad.

Ayers, who was tabbed by College Sports Madness as the Southland's player of the year and as a fourth-team mid-major All-American, leads the Lady Cardinals in scoring at 16.1 points per game, averaging 17.7 points per contest in Southland play. She leads the conference in assists at 5.52 per game.

Dominique Edwards averaged 15.1 points per game to go along with a team-best 8.2 rebounds per game. JaMeisha Edwards averaged 12.2 points per game during the regular season, including 14.2 ppg in Southland action.

"Those are our big three. They have to be at the top of their game," Harmony said. "We also need our other players to contribute as well."

Lamar split the season series with Northwestern State (18-12, 11-7), with each team winning on the road.

"The first game of the tournament always scares me," Harmony said. "It's even tougher when the other team has already played, because they got rid of their jitters."

The winner of Saturday's game advances to the championship game at noon Sunday in Katy, with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.

"We're going to give it everything we've got," Harmony said. "This is what we've worked hard for all season."

KLVI (AM 560) will air all of Lamar's postseason games, including the Southland Conference Tournament and either the NCAA Tournament or WNIT.

Saturday's game will be shown live on ESPN3. The championship game will air live on the CBS Sports Network (DirecTV 221; Dish Network 158; Time Warner Cable 309 and 1309 (HD)).

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