For the third time in the past four years, Sam Houston State women's basketball has won the Southland Conference "Pack the House" Challenge.

A school record crowd of 3,141 saw the Bearkats defeat Mary Hardin-Baylor 87-53 on Friday, November 18, in a 12 noon game at SHSU's Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. More than 3,000 of the fans were elementary and middle school students from the Walker County area.

Sam Houston is one of 32 winners in the NCAA Division I "Pack the House" Challenge.

Pack the House" is a national effort in which conferences and institutions compete to build attendance. NCAA Division I women's basketball marketing staffs selected a home game and designated that date as a "Pack the House" game with the goal of setting an attendance record.

One winner from each of the 32 conferences and one from a group of independent institutions are chosen each year, with the selections being based on marketing plan creativity and attendance criteria. The NCAA will award prizes and donate $500 to the nonprofit organization of each winning institution's choice. Sam Houston Elementary will receive the prize for the student's outstanding spirit, cheering and attendance at the game in November.

A total of 153 institutions participated in the effort this year, attracting more than 431,000 fans to the games.

Three years ago, in Sam Houston's first "Pack the House" contest, a school women's basketball record crowd of 2,261 saw the Bearkats play Southern Misssissippi. Two years ago, Ole Miss was the opponent and 2,456 fans filled the coliseum.

Last year the attendance grew to 2,503, another record, as the Kats defeated Centenary 83-55.

 "Our girls really look forward to the 'Pack the House' game. With all those kids in the coliseum, it's just a great atmosphere," Sam Houston head coach Brenda Nichols said. "It's a great way to introduce area youngsters to college athletics."

Individual conference winners of the 2011-12 NCAA "Pack the House" Challenge are: America East - Vermont; Atlantic Coast - Virginia; Atlantic Sun - Florida Gulf Coast; Atlantic 10 - Massachusetts; Big East - Marquette; Big Sky -Sacramento State; Big South - Winthrop; Big Ten - Iowa; Big 12 - Kansas State; Big West - Long Beach State; Colonial - Delaware; Conference USA - Memphis; Great West - New Jersey Institute; Horizon - Green Bay; Ivy - Pennsylvania; Metro Atlantic - Canisius; Mid(American - Central Michigan; Mid(Eastern - Morgan State; Missouri Valley - Missouri State; Mountain West - Air Force; Northeast - Central Connecticut State; Pacific(12 - California; Patriot - Bucknell; Southeastern - Kentucky; Southern - Georgia Southern; Southland - Sam Houston State; SWAC - Southern University; Summit - Oral Roberts; Sun Belt - South Alabama; West Coast - Portland; WAC - Louisiana Tech and Independents - Longwood.