LU cross country competes at NCAA championship

Verity Ockenden and Iliass Aouani closed out the season for LU cross country.

Lamar University runners Verity Ockenden and Iliass Aouani closed out the season for the cross country team Nov. 21 when both competed at the NCAA Cross Country National Championships hosted at Tom Sawyer State Park by Louisville.

Senior Ockenden finished her senior campaign in cross country at Lamar with a 21:02.5 mark, which placed her 128th in a field of over 250 competitors. Her time was the best ever from a Cardinal at the National Championships in a 6,000-meter race. It was the league’s second-best time in the national meet.

She finished right behind Kaitlin Flattmann (21:02.3) of Arkansas, which finished ninth in the team championships, and just ahead of a Stanford runner at 21:02.6.

The Shaftesbury, England native did a lot of work from the 2K mark, where she was sitting 201st at the split.

Freshman Aouani finished his campaign with a 31:48.6 time that placed him 185th in a field of 252. The freshman finished ahead of Kasey Knevelbaard of Southern Utah (31:49.8), MJ Erb of Ole Miss (31:50.9), Adam Roderque of Tulsa (31:52.2) and Charles Mathenge of Stephen F. Austin (31:53.6). He and Mathenge were the only runners from the Southland Conference.

Aouani worked his way up the pack in the first half of the race. He sat in his finishing position at the 2K split, but by the 5.2K point he worked all the way up to 135th, a move of 50 spots. At the 8,000-meter mark he fell back to 161st and finished at 185.

Syracuse won the men’s team championship and Edward Cheserek (Oregon) won the individual championship with a blistering time of 28:45.8. He was followed by Patrick Tiernan of Villanova with a time of 29:11.1, and Pierce Murphy from Colorado took bronze.

New Mexico won the women’s championship with a total of 49 points. Notre Dame’s Molly Seidel was the individual champion at 19:28.6, followed by Allie Ostrander of Boise State (19:33.6) and Arkansas’ Dominique Scott (19:40.9).

Women’s basketball

The Lady Cards fell to 1-3 on the early season with a 75-63 loss at Northern Arizona on Nov. 22. LU, who fell to Utah by four points on Nov. 17, trailed by as many as 24 against NAU.

LU had four players score in double figures, led by JaMeisha Edwards with 16 points, but the Lumberjacks (1-2) used their size advantage to outrebound the Cardinals 49-29 and to outscore LU 42-20 in the paint.

Lamar will travel to Chicago on Nov. 25 to play Loyola University at 3 p.m. then return home on Monday, Nov. 30, to host Schreiner at 7 p.m.

Men’s basketball

Junior Lincoln Davis’ late-game stretch proved huge in calming a second-half surge from Delaware State (0-4) to lock up a 77-66 Lamar win in non-conference action at Memorial Hall on Nov. 21.

The Cardinals (2-1) had to hold off DSU (0-4) in the second half, but senior Dontavious Sears came up with the big shot that helped Lamar hold on. Down 59-50 with 5:42 to play, the Hornets cut the lead to just six with 5:25 to play, the closest they had been since there was 5:50 to play in the first half, when Sears busted a 3-pointer.

True freshman Nick Garth added 18 points.

“We knew they would try to comeback in the second half because the fell behind in the last two games they played and finished close late,” said head coach Tic Price.

LU will play at Rice on Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. then host UC-Riverside on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 2 p.m. The Cards will also play host to Texas-Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m.

Football

Lamar football finished the 2015 campaign with a losing record after rival and No. 2 McNeese State defeated the Cardinals 20-14 in front of an announced crowd of 9,808 at Provost Umphrey Stadium on Nov. 21.

The Cards (5-6 overall, 4-5 conference) found themselves down 17-7 at the end of the first quarter and the Cowboys (10-0, 9-0) set it on cruise control the remainder of the contest.

LU struggled offensively as they managed just 176 yards while McNeese State compiled 443, which included a whopping 406 rushing yards as three players ran for more than 100 yards on the Cardinals.

McNeese State also held junior running back Kade Harrington to just 70 yards on 17 carries, which was his lowest total since the second game of the season.

“I was surprised because I thought we might get more yards running the football tonight,” said head coach Ray Woodard. “You have to give credit to McNeese State. That defense has been stopping the run all season. There is a reason why they’re the best in the conference at stopping the run. That is a really good football team.”

Junior Xavier Bethany led the Cardinals with 13 tackles, including one for a loss. He was one of three players in double figures; classmate Larance Hale had 12 (including 2.5 for losses) and senior Ronnie Jones added 11.

Volleyball

Junior middle blocker Chelsea Grant earned her second career All-Southland Conference honor when the Lamar University volleyball player was named to the league’s first team for the 2015 season.

The Killeen native, who took second team distinctions last season, helped the Cardinals to 14 wins this season, which matches the past two years combined and is the most since 2009. She is the first Cardinal to take first team honors since Jayme Bazile did it in 2010 and the 22nd first team All-SLC player to hail from Lamar University.

“We talk all the time about how change is our job and we’re in the business of positive change. For her to get the award is a statement on how much her game has grown this year,” said head coach Alan Edwards.

Grant ranked third in the Southland Conference in hitting percentage (.352) and was second in blocks per set (1.25 bps). Her block total sat 140 this season, a career high. She upped her career total to 395, which was good enough for 8th all-time in the LU record books. She only needs 155 to take over as the all-time blocks leader.

“Chelsea needed to learn something other than jump high and hit hard heading into this year,” said Edwards. “I think those changes she made led to her getting the votes for this award. I think if she was the same kid as last year, this doesn’t happen for her.

“I’ve seen a lot of kids win a second-team award and think they’ll get the first team vote because they’re a year older,” he said. “The votes are testimony to her willingness to grow and add to her game.”

Grant averaged 2.70 kills a set this season in 112 sets played. Only she and Cortney Moore played in every set this season, followed by Haley Morton’s 111. Grant had 302 total kills with 87 errors in 611 total attacks. Defensively, she averaged 1.25 blocks a set with 26 total digs.

Heading into her final season at Lamar, Grant has the chance to hit 1,000 kills with 312 and 400 kills with five. Should she do it, she would be only the sixth player in Cardinals history to do so.

“For her to make the changes needed and win the votes speaks well for the future of our program,” said Edwards.

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