Ayers' buzzer beater lifts Lamar over Nicholls

BEAUMONT, Texas – Gia Ayers' last-second heroics lifted the Lamar Lady Cardinals to a 59-57 win over the Nicholls Colonels in a Southland Conference women's basketball game Tuesday night.

Ayers scored on a put-back at the buzzer, Lamar's third shot in the final two seconds, to give the Lady Cardinals the victory and keep them within a half-game of Oral Roberts for the conference lead.

There were a couple of anxious seconds after the buzzer as the officials checked the replay monitor to make sure Ayers' shot counted. The officials didn't need long to confirm that the Lady Cardinals had improved to 18-7 overall and 10-4 in the conference.

"I knew I got the shot off in time," Ayers said. "I knew it was going to count."

The game was full of momentum swings, especially in the early going. Lamar scored 17 straight points to build an early 17-4 lead, only to see Nicholls go on a 16-0 run to take a 20-17 lead with 8:20 remaining in the first half.

The lead changed four times in the first half before Nicholls took a 33-30 lead into intermission. The second half was more of the same back-and-forth action as the game was tied eight times in the final 20 minutes, with the lead changing three more times, the last being Ayers' game-winner as Lamar scored the final five points of the game.

"It was a very hard-fought game," Lamar coach Larry Tidwell said. "We did a good job defensively,"

Kalis Loyd led Lamar with 24 points and 10 rebounds, her eighth double-double of the season and 26th of her career. Carenn Baylor had 13 points for Lamar, while Dominique Edwards had 12 points and eight rebounds.

Lamar shot 33.3 percent from the field (22-of-66) and from 3-point range (8-of-24). Nicholls shot 33.9 percent from the field (19-of-56) and just 27.8 percent from beyond the arc (5-of-18). The Colonels stayed in the game by going 14-of-16 from the free-throw line, while Lamar was 7-of-12 (58.3 percent).

"We have to shoot better, especially from the line," Tidwell said. "We're Division I players. We have to make free throws."

Alisha Allen led Nicholls with 19 points. KK Babin had 12 points for the Colonels, while Jasmine Scott finished with 10 points.

The Lady Cardinals are idle until Feb. 28 when they host conference-leading Oral Roberts. Oral Roberts improved to 11-4 with a win over Central Arkansas on Tuesday.

"We're going to work hard and shoot, shoot, shoot," Tidwell said. "We'll get better through repetition."