OXFORD, Miss. – The Sam Houston State Bearkats trailed by as much as 18 points in the second half, but cut the deficit all the way down to one before Ole Miss was able to hold them off for a 75-69 win on Tuesday night at The Pavilion.
SHSU (2-2) trailed by 18 points with 4:17 points to go in the third quarter and by 14 points heading into the final period, but sophomore Amber Leggett scored 12 of her team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter to help bring the Kats back.
All 12 of those points came within a 4-minute span of the fourth quarter that saw the Kats outscore Ole Miss (4-2) 18-5 to draw to within a point at 68-67 on Leggett’s second 3-point basket of the game.
The Kats still trailed 71-69 with less than a minute to play, but came up empty on consecutive possessions.
SHSU forced 24 Rebel turnovers in the game, but fell victim to 31 of their own. The Rebels took advantage of that to the tune of a 34-17 edge in points off turnovers.
Leggett added six rebounds to her 20 points, whie Jaylonn Walker joined her in double figures with 16 points. Jenniffer Oramas also had 11 points, while La’Sha Haynes had eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.
The Kats will look to get their first road win of the year on Saturday when they travel to Tulsa to take on Oral Roberts. Tipoff is set for 2:00 p.m. at the Mabee Center.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST HALF
A bucket by Haynes and a 3-point play by Walker had the Kats down just 8-7 in the opening minutes before Ole Miss got going on a 9-0 run to get some early breathing room. Still, the Kats hung around and held the Rebels to just two made field goals in their final 12 tries, getting a 3-pointer from Walker just before the buzzer to give her seven points and draw the Kats to within 20-16.
A quick score by Kiera McKinney on the first possession of the second quarter drew the Kats to within a bucket of Ole Miss, but the Kats then went cold for a three-minute stretch while Ole Miss reeled off six straight points.
Ole Miss would go on to make seven of its first eight shots from the field in the quarter, while the Kats went nearly five minutes of game time during the quarter without making a field goal until Walker drained her second triple of the game with under a minute to play.
Walker would finish with 10 points in the half, but the Kats hit just 35.5 percent from the field as a team, along with turning the ball over 15 times. The Rebels were able to turn that into 16 points and held a 16-6 edge in points off turnovers despite turning the ball over a dozen times themselves.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE SECOND HALF
SHSU cut the lead back to single digits with seven points from Leggett and Oramas in the first three minutes of the third quarter before the turnover bug returned. The Kats turned it over six times in the first six minutes of the period, allowing the Rebels to stretch out its lead to 15 by the midway point of the quarter.
Faith Cook got going with five points in the final minutes of the third quarter, but the Rebels had already increased its lead to as much as 18 before taking a 59-45 advantage to the fourth.
That bit of momentum carried over as Walker and Oramas delivered early scores, but the Kats still found themselves down 63-51 with seven minutes to go. But consecutive scores from Haynes and Leggett got the Kats going and a layup by Courtney Cleveland cut the lead to single digits with 5:58 to go.
Leggett then delivered 10 of the Kats’ next 12 points in a span of 2:22, canning a 3-pointer with 2:42 to play that cut the lead to 68-67. Ole Miss would not have a field goal in the final 3:43 of the game, but closed by hitting 7-for-8 from the foul line in the final 2:10 to keep the Kats at bay.