Lady Cards ready to dance
March 20, 2010
AUSTIN, Texas - The Lamar University women's basketball team will be on the Big Dance floor for the first time in 19 years Sunday when it takes on West Virginia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. Game time is set for 8:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and broadcast locally on KLVI (560 AM).
Lamar (26-7) is making its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The first coming in 1991, when the Lady Cards advanced to the Elite Eight with wins over Texas, LSU and Arkansas before bowing to Virginia.
"It's quite an honor to be in the NCAA Tournament," Lamar coach Larry Tidwell said. "I've been associated with seven previously as an associate head coach at TCU, and I've been in a couple of WNITs. There's nothing like being in the NCAA Tournament and being the head coach. This is a great experience for me."
Lamar is a No. 14 seed and will have its hands full against third-seeded West Virginia (28-5), which was a runner-up to undefeated UConn in the Big East this season. But the Lady Cardinals are eager to meet the challenge.
"We made a huge statement in our conference. We won the regular-season championship and we won the tournament conference championship," Lamar guard Jenna Plumley said. "We're not just any team as people would look at it. We're going to come out and play hard and play to the best of our ability. That's what it's all about in a tournament."
Plumley, the Southland Conference Player of the Year who is fourth in the nation in assists and fifth in 3-pointers, will be facing another dynamic point guard in West Virginia's Sarah Miles, a second-team all-Big East selection who was the Big East's Defensive Player of the Year.
"She's very quick," Plumley said of Miles. "She has a good vision of the game, and she's able to pass the ball and get the ball to open people."
Sunday's game will be Lamar's fifth NCAA Tournament game ever, all in the state of Texas. It will be Lamar's fourth NCAA game in the Erwin Center, with the other being played at the Montagne Center.
Lamar is 2-1 in NCAA games in Austin, with the wins coming against Texas and Arkansas. Maybe there's some magic for the Cardinals in Austin again.
"We look back and great things happened then (1991)," Plumley said. "We're making great things happen right now. We're just really excited and looking forward to Sunday."
Of course, Tidwell knows the Lady Cardinals will need more than magic to beat the Mountaineers.
"They play a man defense. It's going to be a physical game. And if we don't play physical, then we're in for a long night," Tidwell said. "We're going to have to rebound and defend. Both teams play just seven or eight players. We're all in shape at this point, and we're going to see how it turns out. It will be interesting."
Tickets are still available at the University of Texas. Lamar fans not traveling to Austin are encouraged to attend viewing parties at the Buffalo Wild Wings locations in Beaumont and Port Arthur.