Sam Houston (7-6, 2-0) never trailed, jumping out to a 14-3 lead in the first seven minutes. But the Bearkats could not rid themselves of a scrappy UT-Arlington group that pulled to within three points with seven minutes to go.
The Bearkats snapped out of a long funk and finished with a flurry.
"We picked it up in the second half when they got within three. We all said that was too close, so we just started grabbing rebounds," Bearkats freshman post Angela Beadle said after recording a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
"It was an ugly W, but it was a W," Bearkats coach Brenda Nichols said with a smile. "We didn't handle the ball very well, plus we missed a lot of bunnies. We missed too many easy baskets, but the girls battled, they scrapped and never got out of the game plan.
"We had a lot of good play from Angela Beadle and Sequeena Thomas tonight. We battled on the boards. We had 59 rebounds tonight, and I imagine it's been a long time since we've had that many boards in one game."
The Bearkats, who play host to the Lady Colonels of Nicholls on Saturday at 2 p.m., led UTA from start to finish. The Mavericks (0-2 in SLC play, 2-11 overall) closed the gap to three points on a Chauntandra Williams layup with 7:03 left in the game.
Sam Houston sophomore Jasmine Johnson hit a big shot to stretch the Kats' lead back to five. Johnson's 13-foot jumper hit the front iron, rolled up and over the rim to make it 42-37, then Beadle and Thomas took over.
Beadle blocked a UTA shot and rebounded the ball on one end of the floor, then she hustled for an offensive rebound and scored a putback to make it a seven-point game.
Thomas contributed the next five points, four on consecutive fast breaks that pushed the lead back to 10 at 49-39.
UTA had nothing left after that.
"We started playing our inside-outside game," Beadle explained. "Personally, I like the inside-outside stuff because it gets everybody involved. The posts aren't just standing around waiting for the guards to do something."
On a night when the Bearkats' leading scorer, junior Britni Martin, was held to eight points, Thomas, Beadle and Chanice Smith played major roles. Smith scored seven points and had eight rebounds.
"One thing I really like about this bunch is we're very team-oriented," Nichols said. "If you shut down one of our big players, we've got three or four more who can hurt you."
Junior forward Tanishia Manson came off the bench to score four points for SHSU and Johnson tossed in three more.
Williams led the Mavericks with 10 points. Bianca Sauls grabbed 10 rebounds for UTA