LAKE CHARLES, La. – McNeese’s Dede Sheppard scored a season-high 23 points and the Cowgirls sunk nine 3-pointers to spark its offensive outburst in a 79-56 victory against Sam Houston State on Thursday evening from Burton Coliseum.
The Bearkats (0-12 overall, 0-2 Southland), who fell behind nine points before picking up their first bucket, recovered to shoot 40 percent in the opening quarter and matched a season-high with 17 second-quarter points.
Sam Houston’s Jada Ballew posted a season-high 11 points, more than doubling up her previous mark of 5, with a 4-for-6 performance from the field. Rachel Harrell and Angela Delaney each added eight points while Kiera McKinney continued her block party, finishing with two.
McNeese (7-7, 2-1 SLC) maintained a strong presence inside the paint, outscoring Sam Houston 38-22 inside while capitalizing on 28 points off 19 Bearkats turnovers.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sam Houston matched its highest-scoring first half of the season at 30 points but was challenged in slowing down a Cowgirls’ offense that entered averaging 73.4 points per game.
McNeese jumped out to a 9-0 advantage before Jenniffer Oramas countered with a pair of buckets for the Bearkats including her team-leading 17th 3-pointer of the year to make it a four-point game.
Rachel Harrell, the Kats’ second leading scorer from behind the arc, added a trey of her own with 8:51 to play in the half, at the time trimming McNeese’s lead to five points at 23-18. Over the next two minutes, however, the Cowgirls went on an 8-0 run for a 31-18 lead.
The squads combined for nine 3-pointers in the opening half including a pair late as Harrell drained another to cut the McNeese lead to 10 points only to see the Cowgirls’ Amber Donnes sink her third of the opening 20 minutes to push the advantage to 43-30.
McNeese buckled down defensively in the third, allowing just 11 Sam Houston points including no free throw opportunities. The Bearkats went 5 of 15 (33.3 percent) from the field during the second, third and fourth quarters while the Cowgirls shot 8 of 16 (50 percent) in the second and third.
Sam Houston returns home to take on Nicholls at 4 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be the first at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum since Nov. 21 for the Kats, who concluded a season-high eight-game road trip at McNeese. The game will be broadcast on 101.7 KSAM and streamed online via GoBearkats.com courtesy of the Bearkat Sports Network.
Head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols on Jada Ballew’s performance…
“After Christmas break we started looking at moving her into that two position, running her and Morghen (Day) together. They’ve worked very well together. They complement each other. I really think Jada has settled down playing in that position.”
Head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols on team effort…
“Our kids are fighting. Most teams that don’t win a ballgame have given up by now. These kids have continued to keep fighting for the Bearkats. They haven’t given up. Our offensive game has got to get better. We are putting up shots and it is going to start happening. We can’t let up or relax. If we do that, we’ll win some ball games. This is only the second conference game.”
Head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols on playing back at home…
“I really think that will help us. Having a little fan support … I know this kids won’t quit. We have improved in every area except scoring the basketball and I think that will come. We rotated a small group tonight. It seems like we have been doing this a long time but we’ll get back home and see what we can do.”