By George Slaughter
The Nicholls State Lady Colonels and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks won their respective Southland Conference basketball titles this weekend at the Merrill Center.
Nicholls will learn its women’s tournament seed this evening. SFA will play Texas Tech Thursday night in Dallas in the first round of the men’s tournament.
Nicholls Wins Women’s Title
In the women’s title game, Nicholls defeated the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks 69-65 Sunday afternoon.
The win gives the Lady Colonels a 19-13 record and their first-ever NCAA women’s basketball tournament berth. The Ladyjacks are 25-6.
The Lady Colonels came in as the fourth seed in the tournament, and Sunday’s win was their third consecutive win in as many days. They defeated the fifth-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Friday night, and upset top-seeded Lamar, 74-68, in the semifinal on Saturday.
SFA came in as the second seed and defeated third-seeded Central Arkansas, 70-60, in the semifinal on Saturday.
SFA began Sunday’s game in strong fashion, working its way to a 16-2 lead in the first half and maintaining a lead until the fourth quarter.
That’s when things started to fall apart for the Ladyjacks. The Lady Colonels came back to take the lead on a free throw by senior center Marina Lilly. The lead went back and forth from there, with the Lady Colonels taking the lead for good on a layup by sophomore guard Airi Hamilton with 5:03 left.
Junior guard Cassidy Barrios scored 22 points to lead the Lady Colonels. Sophomore guard Tykeria Williams had 17, Lilly had 12, and senior guard Tia Charles had 10 for Nicholls State.
Junior guard Chanell Hayes had 17 points to lead the Ladyjacks. Sophomore forward Riley Harvey scored 16 points and junior forward Imani Johnson had 13 for SFA.
SFA Wins Men’s Title
In the men’s title game played Saturday night, SFA defeated the Southeastern Louisiana Lions, 59-55.
The Lumberjacks have won their fourth conference championship in the last five seasons and the first under second-year coach Kyle Keller.
The Lumberjacks are now 28-6. The Lions are 22-11.
SFA was the third seed and defeated seventh-seeded Central Arkansas and second-seeded Nicholls to advance to the conference title game. The Lions were the top seed and defeated fourth-seeded Sam Houston on Friday.
In Saturday’s game, the Lumberjacks had built a 14-point second-half lead when the Lions came back to take a lead of their own. Junior forward Moses Greenwood’s layup gave the Lions a 44-43 lead with 9:02 left. SLU built its lead to six on a three-point shot by senior guard Joshua Filmore with 5:45 left.
But the Lumberjacks overcame the onslaught and reclaimed the lead for good on a three-point shot by Kevon with 3:21 left.
Junior forward T.J. Holyfield had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and senior guard Ivan Canete had 10 points, to lead SFA.
Filmore had 14 points, and junior guard Marlain Veal had 10 points, to lead SLU.