Plaisance, Colonels headed to NCAA for first time after Southland title

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THIBODAUX – Nicholls women’s basketball coach DoBee Plaisance still hasn’t been to sleep and still hasn’t come down from the high of Sunday’s Southland Conference tournament championship, clinching the first NCAA Tournament berth in program history.

“It hasn’t sunk in,” Plaisance said Monday afternoon, hours before it was announced the Colonels would play SEC regular season champion Mississippi State on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Starkville for its first-ever NCAA game. “I haven’t been able to sleep.”

The first round game will be aired on ESPN2 and streamed on WatchESPN.

Led by conference player of the year and tournament most valuable player Cassidy Barrios, the Colonels (19-13) had to come from behind in all three Southland tournament games, defeating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, regular-season champion Lamar and No. 2 seed Stephen F. Austin by a total of 12 points.

“Resiliency is the word I’ve used over and over,” Plaisance said of her team. “They’re such a humble team. We had to slay Goliath and two dragons in the tournament.”

Plaisance kept telling her team that “we are all that we need.”

“That takes a lot of blind faith. We faced some momentous adverse situations in this tournament,” she said. “All I kept pounding into them (is) ‘we are all that we need.’ God willing, we got the championship.”

Barrios, a junior from Raceland who prepped at Vandebilt Catholic, leads Nicholls with averages of 17.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Tykeria Williams (13.2) is second on the team in scoring, while senior Tia Charles of John Curtis Christian averages 9.4 points and a team-best 3.8 assists per game.

Nicholls goes into the postseason having won 11 of its last 12 games, including seven in a row – a four-game run at the end of the regular season to land the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament, followed by three wins in three days last weekend in Katy, Texas.

“Two weeks before the tournament, we were fighting to get out of eighth place,” Plaisance said, “and it came down to the last regular-season game to get the (first round) bye.”

While this is her first trip to the postseason as Nicholls’ head coach, Plaisance knows a thing or two about the postseason. In fact, she’s celebrating a couple of anniversaries on that front.

Ten years ago this month, the Plaisance-coached Loyola women reached the Elite Eight of the NAIA national tournament. Twenty-five years ago, Plaisance guided St. Martin’s Episcopal School to a perfect 36-0 season and the first of back-to-back state championships.

“My best advice to them is to stay humble,” she said, “and don’t let a moment get away from us. Every moment up until whenever this precious little ride ends, we have to be grateful for it and make the most of it.”

Plaisance was nearly brought to tears talking about the text message she got from a Nicholls administrator following Sunday’s victory.

“She told me, ‘the championship is special, but the way it is obvious that you love your players is so inspiring to all of us.’

“It’s those players that have done the grit work. It’s those players I want to be first and foremost. They make me better every day.”

And now, they’re headed to a new pinnacle.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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