THIBODAUX – Sophomore LiAnn McCarthy scored a career-high 24 points to lead four Colonels who finished in double figures as the Nicholls State University women's basketball team withstood a second-half comeback by the Lamar, defeating the Lady Cardinals, 70-64, at Stopher Gym on Saturday.
With the win, Nicholls improves to 11-9 on the season and 4-3 in Southland play. It also ends a seven-game losing streak against Lamar (10-10, 2-4) as well as a three-game home skid in the series.
McCarthy netted 16 points in the first half to help Nicholls to a 40-26 lead at the break. The New Orleans native had two 3-pointers in the stanza as Nicholls shot 6-of-14 from downtown. In the second half, McCathy connected on four field goals, including a crucial layup in the final seconds to secure the victory for the Colonels.
Also for Nicholls, Sumar Leslie added 14 points and eight assists, KK Babin finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Alisha Allen tacked on 11 points to put her career total at 976.
Nicholls built a 19-point lead, their largest of the game, in the first half before Lamar ended the period on a 5-0 run. The momentum continued for the Lady Cardinals after the intermission as they cut the deficit to single digits, just five minutes into second period.
Leading by five, Leslie displayed some senior leadership by doubling the lead with the game's next five points, capped on a basket-and-one. However, Lamar continued to hang around, eventually bringing the score to 60-58 with 4:50 to go. Leslie answered the call again, this time with a 3-pointer coming out of a timeout.
Nicholls continued to maintain a slim advantage, and then Babin nailed two free throws for a 67-62 lead with a minute to go. Lamar's Kalis Loyd, who finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds, scored a layup to make it a single possession game; however, Nicholls countered with 34 seconds left when Leslie found McCarthy open for a layup. Allen would add a free throw down the stretch to make the final, 70-64.
Nicholls shot 43 percent from the field, and improved their nationally ranked free throw percentage by making 8-of-9. The Colonels came into the game ranked 9th in the NCAA at the line (.777). Nicholls scored 18 points off 20 Lamar turnovers, while only turning it over 10 times.
Lamar held a decisive advantage on the glass, 43-27. The Lady Cardinals were led by Gia Ayers with her first career double-double, a personal-best 15 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor Hayes also had a career-high 15 points.
Nicholls will hit the road for its next two games, starting on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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