Women’s Basketball: Defending champion Colonels bounced by Islanders, 69-56

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KATY, Texas – The No. 3 seed Nicholls State University women’s basketball team was held to its third-lowest field goal percentage of the season, as the Colonels saw their hopes of a repeat as Southland Conference Tournament champions come to an end in the quarterfinals against No. 6 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with a 69-56 loss Friday afternoon in the Leonard E. Merrell Center.

With the setback, Nicholls ends its historic run with a 20-11 overall record. The 20 victories was a single-season team record for the Colonels, which also appeared in the postseason for a record eighth consecutive time.

Senior Cassidy Barrios was one of three Colonels to finish with a team-high 11 points, joined by freshman Adrian Mann and junior Tykeria Williams. Barrios and Williams were named all-tournament last season to fuel the Colonels’ championship run, but shots did not fall for the duo against the Islanders as they combined to make 6 of 31.

Besides the unkind rims, Nicholls also had trouble keeping the Islanders (16-15) off the glass. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi totaled 56 rebounds, with 24 coming on the offensive end. It led to a huge 25-11 advantage in second-chance points, and also a plus-16 margin in points in the paint,

Nicholls led only once when redshirt freshman Lauryn Bowie scored the first bucket of the game. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi answered with a 9-0 run and never trailed the rest of the way.

The Colonels came as close as three points in the second quarter after Chrystal Ezechukwu hit a pair of free throws to make it 27-24. But the Islanders kept driving to the basket for layups and headed into the break with a 33-26 lead.

Nicholls had mounted second-half comebacks several times this season, but the Islanders opened the third with a 10-1 spurt. The last four points came from Emma Young, who was one of four Islanders to reach double figures.

The Colonels chipped away at the deficit, bringing it to nine points, but it soon ballooned to 18 with six minutes remaining in the game. Nicholls made one last push when Airi Hamilton hit a 3-pointer and followed with a layup to make the count 61-52 with 2:44 to go, but never got any closer the rest of the way.

Hamilton finished with seven points, while Ezechukwu totaled nine points, nine rebounds, and three blocks.

Dae Dae Evans and Alexes Bryant each finished with 14 points for the Islanders, which move on to play No. 2 Stephen F. Austin on Saturday.

The lone senior on the Colonels squad, Cassidy Barris, finished with 1,964 career points which ranks ninth all-time in Southland Conference history. She also ranks third in the SLC in made free throws (577), 10th in steals (273), second in minutes played (4,537), and third in double-doubles (41).

She will leave Nicholls’ as the all-time leading in points and blocks while ranking second in rebounds (1,010) and steals, and third in assists (397).

For the most up-to-date information, follow the Colonel basketball team on Twitter @Nicholls_WBB.

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