Lady Lions return to Conference tournament for first time since 2012


For the first time since the 2011-2012 season, the Lady Lions will make an appearance at the Southland Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Third year Head Coach Ayla Guzzardo led the Lady Lions to a 12-17 season, their best record since the 2010-2011 season in which the university finished 13-16.

Guzzardo explained how she knew the team would make it to the tournament at the beginning of the season.

“Ever since our first couple practices, I knew this team had what it takes to make it far,” shared Guzzardo. “They were holding each other accountable and doing all the small things right. This team has worked hard since the preseason. They were mad when they weren’t making their times. They were mad when their teammates weren’t making their times. They were holding their teammates accountable. We came into the season knowing that we could make the tournament.”

The Hammond native shared some tricks that helped motivate the team and staff to work harder in order to get to the Southland Conference Tournament.

“At the beginning of the season, we had our locker room code changed to Katy’s zip code,” stated Guzzardo. “The tournament has been something that’s been on our mind. It’s important to us and this program.”

Guzzardo gave credit to the women’s basketball staff for making the Southland Conference Tournament.

“It was the program as an entirety, to be honest with you,” shared Guzzardo. “From our trainers to our assistant coaches, everyone bought in and really did their job. We are a young staff and work really hard. All we know how to do is work really hard.”

Guzzardo shared how junior Cailtyn Williams and senior Celica Sterling stepped up this season to be leaders for the Lady Lions.

“One of our biggest leaders was Caitlyn Williams,” said Guzzardo. “She stepped up and became very vocal this season. She has been doing the work on the offensive end. She’s been getting easy rebounds and put backs. Another leader has been Celica Sterling. She has been consistent for the majority of the year. Her mid range and three ball has been on.”

Along with Williams and Sterling, Guzzardo explained how freshman Alexius Horne was a huge contributor to the team.

“Alexius Horne was a big piece to our team this season, too,” shared Guzzardo. “Unfortunately, in the McNeese game, she tore her ACL and is out for the season. But she had probably one of the best freshman seasons in our program’s history.”

Senior guard Tyler Morrison described how surreal it has been for the team to make the tournament.

“I have been here for four years, and we have missed it every season,” shared Morrison. “It’s hard to believe we actually got it done, but I am super excited and can’t wait to see what we will do.”

The Lady Lions will be the eightth seed in the tournament. Morrison described what challenges the team will face in the tournament.

“Just knowing that even though we are the underdog we can beat these teams,” explained Morrison. “We are very capable of doing it. We just have to believe in ourselves. Everyone held themselves accountable this season. Everyone bought in and believed in what the coaches were telling us, everyone trusted the coaching staff.”

The Lady Lions will square off against the University of New Orleans on March 12 at 11 a.m. in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament in Katy, Texas.