The Lion's Roar

Lions clinch seed in Conference Tournament

Jasmine Tate

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The Lions basketball team ended a four-game losing streak last weekend over the Lamar Cardinals, clinching the eighth seed in the Southland Conference Tournament.
Gaining momentum early in the game, the Lions went into halftime with a close lead of 27-24. Head Coach Jim Yarbrough expressed his concerns entering the game and coming back from the half time break.
“We went into last night’s game concerned,” Yarbrough said. “Our team seemed to forget how to play a full 40 minutes and finish a game. We went into [the game against] Lamar with the idea that we had to have this particular contest for a spot in the conference tourney, for our confidence, for pride and to prove we still had a win in us. We didn’t want to head to Katy, Texas with a five- game losing streak.”
Coming off a loss to Sam Houston State, four Lions scored in double digits, and Junior forward Devonte Upson gained his second double-double of the season with 10 rebounds and tied for his career high of 16 points.
The Lions shot at 46.8 percent led by Junior Guard JaMichael Hawkins with 15 points, followed by Dre Evans with 11 and Onochie Ochie with 10.
Although the score was close at halftime, the Lions maintained the lead through the second half. Yarbrough shared the importance of having the ability to respond to the challenge of finishing close games.
“I was a little concerned at halftime by a small lead,” said Yarbrough. “We had control but let them get close. Good teams handle that challenge and bounce back. I was pleased that we responded well on the road and finished the game.”
The Lions (12-17, 7-11 Southland) will take on the Nicholls State Cardinals in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament on Wednesday, March 12 with hopes of advancing into the NCAA tournament.
“Our goal is to play aggressively, to play with confidence, to play to our strengths,” said Yarbrough. “It’s tournament time so you simply survive and advance. That’s what we will try to do this week. It’s an exciting time of [the] year in college hoops.”
The conference tournament will continue through the weekend. Round two will be played Thursday at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. followed by semi-finals Friday at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The men’s championship game will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and will be televised live on ESPN2.
The winning team will earn an automatic bid by the Southland Conference in the NCAA Tournament. The Final Four competition of the NCAA will take place at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. A conference championship win will secure the Lions their 10th appearance in the NCAA tournament in the last 11 years.
Wednesday’s competition will be broadcast live on KSLU 90.0 FM. For statistics and game recaps from the season, visit lionsports.net.
 

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