HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State turned heads in the opening half on Thursday against Stephen F. Austin but a third-quarter Ladyjacks' surge would be too much in an 83-65 defeat at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
The Bearkats (1-18 overall, 1-8 Southland) were outscored by 14 in the third quarter, permitting 26 points as SFA (17-3, 7-1 SLC) shot 53 percent in the frame including 42 percent from downtown. The Bearkats were held to 18 percent shooting with only Jasmine McCants scoring more than one field goal.
Sam Houston was led by McCants’ 17 points on 3-of-8 shooting including 11 points at the free throw line. The performance marked the third time this season the senior has scored 15 or more points. Angela Delaney, Tia Harson and Rachel Harrell also finished in double figures.
Kiera McKinney grabbed seven rebounds and produced four blocks, matching her most of the season. The Ladyjacks were led by Brentney Branch’s 25 points while teammate Taylor Ross added 21 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sam Houston set a season-high with 19 first quarter points and matched a season-best with 35 first half points as part of an explosive opening 20 minutes.
The Bearkats twice extended leads to five points and took advantage of their opportunities at the charity stripe. Sam Houston, which entered the game shooting 65 percent from the free throw line, hit 10 of 12 in the opening half including six from senior Jasmine McCants.
After losing the battle of the boards in its last three games, Sam Houston was strong on the glass, out-rebounding the ‘Jacks, 27-18 in the first half, including seven from Kiera McKinney, who also added four blocks in the two periods.
The Ladyjacks took 15 first-half 3-pointers but only sunk four, with three coming from Brentney Branch.
SFA responded to open the third quarter, forcing three Sam Houston turnovers in a span of 1:22 while outscoring the Bearkats 9-2 to begin the frame.
After struggling from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes, the ‘Jacks hit three 3-pointers in the opening six minutes. Stephen F. Austin hit 20 points in the third quarter with 2:38 remaining in the frame as Harvey drove to the basket, sunk the jumper and converted the 3-point play.
In the fourth quarter, the ‘Jacks used a 15-1 run over 3:43 to push its lead to a game-high 21 points before Tia Harston responded with a 3-pointer with just over four minutes remaining.
Head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols on the game…
“I am going to give it to our girls. They fought hard. We had a bad third quarter and that really hurt us. Our girls ran the game plan. We have to do a better job. We let them have too many shots in the pain. We shot the ball well and I commend them for that.”
Head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols on the strong performance at the free-throw line…
“This was part of the game plan. We wanted to get it inside and get their bigs in trouble. I think our players have done a really good job. Early in the season, we weren’t as good in that area.”
Head coach Brenda Welch-Nichols on the strong performance on the third quarter slump…
“We only shot 18 percent and we’ve got to do a better job with that. We were shooting in 30s, 40s and 50s in the others. Our girls kept fighting and battled back in the fourth quarter.”