BEAUMONT, Texas – The Lamar University Cardinals were picked to finish atop the Southland Conference women’s basketball standings this season in a poll of the SLC’s women’s basketball coaches and sports information directors.
The Cardinals, who return all five starters from last season’s squad that went 22-8 overall and 15-3 in conference play, received 18 of a potential 24 first-place votes (those voting were not allowed to vote for their school).
“We now have to live up to our expectations,” LU coach Robin Harmony said. “I think this team can be something special.”
Defending regular-season and conference tournament champion Central Arkansas was selected second, while Stephen F. Austin was picked to finish third in the 13-team league.
The Cardinals had three first-team selection on the preseason All-Southland Conference squad that was announced last week. Representing the Cardinals are guards Chastadie Barrs and Moe Kinard along with post player Kiandra Bowers. All three players were second-team all-conference choices last season, with Barrs being named the conference’s defensive player of the year for the second straight season, while Kinard was tabbed as the newcomer of the year.
“This sets the tone for the season,” Harmony said. “All three deserved to be named first team based on last season, but now they have to perform.”
Barrs led the nation in steals with 142 last season, setting LU and Southland Conference records. She also led the conference with 194 assists, while averaging 9.4 points per game. Kinard, LU’s leading scorer last season with an average of 15.3 points per game, also led LU with 72 3-pointers. Bowers, who ranked 12th in the nation with 17 double-doubles in 2016-17, averaged 14.3 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per outing. She led the nation in offensive rebounding, averaging 5.97 per game.
As a team, LU led the nation in four statistical categories last season finishing first in steals with 425, in steals per game at 14.2, turnover margin at plus 8.90 per game and turnovers forced at 24.30 per game.
The Cardinals went undefeated at home in 2016-17, going 15-0 while outscoring opponents by an average of almost 28.5 points per game.
“We take pride in defending our nest at the Montagne Center,” Harmony said. “We get great fan support, and that is something we truly appreciate.”
The Cardinals open their season at perennial national power Baylor on Nov. 10. The home opener is slated for 7 p.m. Nov. 13 against Louisiana College.
2017-18 Southland Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll
Pl. School (First-place votes) Total
1. Lamar University (18) 279
2. Central Arkansas (6) 260
3. Stephen F. Austin (2) 244
4. New Orleans 213
5. Abilene Christian 186
6. McNeese 163
7. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 147
8. Northwestern State 133
9. Nicholls 132
10. UIW 92
11. Houston Baptist 71
12. Southeastern Louisiana 68
13. Sam Houston State 40