Coming off strong showings in hard-fought losses to big-time programs Vanderbilt and Kentucky, the Sam Houston State women's basketball team earned a home win over Texas-Pan American on Thursday night.

The Bearkats led for much of the game, aside from a Pan American run late in the first half which gave the Broncs a one-point lead at the break.

But when the second half came, so did the Sam Houston attack that outlasted Pan American 64-56.

Led by Britni Martin's 23 points, 15 of which came in the second half, the Bearkats seized the lead early in the second half.

At the start of the game, though, Sam Houston struggled to run its offense and forced difficult shots. After what junior Sequeena Thomas called "a little talk" from head coach Brenda Nichols, the Bearkats kicked it in gear.

"I think altogether we got a little frustrated but once we settled in and got our intensity back up, everything fell into place," Nichols said after the game. "I think the intensity level we started playing with in the second half is what carried us over."

With a young team, Sam Houston emphasizes mental toughness and the Bearkats were tested when the game was most physical.

Two Pan American players were charged with technical fouls in the second half, while Sam Houston maintained its composure.

"We got a little fired up and picked up our intensity," Thomas said after the game. "One of our big things is maintaining our mental toughness and composure. That's something we focus on. We just played hard and we wanted it."

Each half saw three lead changes, but the Bearkats outmuscled Pan American with 16 second-half points in the paint.

Thomas finished the game with 22 points and eight rebounds. Her 17 first-half points set the tone for Sam Houston. Freshman Angela Beadle grabbed 11 boards, a team-high.

Pan American was led by LaQuita Garner's 20 points. Adanna Opara added 16 points and 12 rebounds.

The Bearkats have eight days off until they hit the road to take on Grambling State.