HOUSTON – Sam Houston State’s Lydia Baxter recorded a double-double, setting new career highs in points and rebounds, but it would not be enough as Rice defeated the Bearkats 77-51 on Tuesday night at Tudor Fieldhouse.
Baxter accounted for 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting while bringing in 13 rebounds, the second-most by a Sam Houston player this season. The sophomore forwarded shattered her previous career point total of eight and rebound mark of nine.
Senior Jasmine McCants recorded her third double-digit shooting performance of the season, tallying 10 points on 5 of 10 from the field. For just the second time in seven games, Sam Houston (0-7) was out-rebounded as the Owls (4-2) did so by a tally of 42-40.
The Owls led by just seven points at the end of the opening quarter and 10 points at the break but Rice surged in the second half, outscoring the Bearkats 41-25 in the final 20 minutes including closing out the game on an 11-0 run over the last 3:12.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sam Houston hung with the Owls early, using a Jenniffer Oramas 3-pointer to knot the game at 5-all. Rice responded, hitting five straight points before Lydia Baxter, who led the Kats with five points in the frame, hit 1-of-2 at the charity stripe to make it a 10-7 game with 4:13 left in the quarter.
Jada Ballew drove the court to sink a runner with 2:43 in the frame to again trim the lead back to three at 15-12. The Owls would string together the final four points of the quarter but the Bearkats were still able to match a season-high with 12 points in the opening quarter.
After a slow start to the second quarter which saw Rice score the first five points of the frame, Sam Houston’s Jada Ballew cut into the deficit with a 3-pointer at 6:57 to make it a 9-point game. The Owls would push their lead to 15 courtesy of a 3-pointer from Nicole Iademarco with 4:18 left.
From that point, however, Sam Houston would hold Rice without a jumper. Ashleigh Cooper drained a jumper and Morghen Day sunk a 3-pointer with 1:52 left to make it a 10-point game. With 38 seconds remaining in the half, Baxter used a pass from Angela Delaney to move Sam Houston within single-digits at nine but an Owls free throw pushed their lead back to 36-26 where it stood at the intermission.
Sam Houston outrebounded the Owls, 21-20, in the first half, cutting down on the turnovers in the second quarter while committing just two. Delaney led the way for Sam Houston at the half, scoring five points on 2-for-3 shooting in just four minutes of action while Baxter added a game-leading nine boards.
Led by Baxter, the Bearkats were tenacious to open the third quarter, holding the Owls to 2-of-9 from the field to open the frame including a scoring drought of nearly three minutes midway through the quarter. In the opening minute, a McCants layup cut the Rice lead to eight points.
Sam Houston’s McCants made several attempts to bring the game closer but Rice answered. Another McCants layup again cut it to nine points with 4:14 in the quarter before Rice nailed a jumper of its own. Then, the senior followed a rebound with a tip in with 2:50 left only to be followed by a 4-point play from the Owls in the closing minutes of the third.
The play was part of an 8-0 run over the course of 55 seconds which moved the Owls’ lead to 54-37 at the 1:37 media timeout. In total, Rice outscored Sam Houston by eight points in the quarter as Rice reached a 19-point lead, its highest of the game with 1:05 left in the quarter and led 57-39 entering the fourth.
Sam Houston would not let up in the fourth, outscoring the Owls 9-7 while holding Rice to 1-for-7 entering the 4:46 media timeout. Day added her second 3-pointer of the game with 5:52 left to trim the Rice lead to 16 points as the senior accounted for two of the Kats’ five 3-pointers.
Sam Houston continues its season-high eight-game road trip with a visit to Prairie View A&M on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. from William J. Nicks Arena as the Bearkats look to improve on their 11-1 mark all-time against the Panthers. The matchup will be the first of just three for the Kats in the month of December with LSU (Dec. 14) and Texas State (19) closing out Sam Houston’s non-conference slate.