HUNTSVILLE – A lot has changed since Sam Houston State produced this level of dominance against an opponent.
Sam Houston thumped Wiley College, 80-41, matching its largest victory in 17 seasons, thanks to a 50-percent shooting performance including four players in double figures on Friday morning at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
Rachel Harrell and Ashleigh Cooper each matched career highs, with 14 points and 13 respectively, while Jenniffer Oramas led Sam Houston in scoring for a second-straight game with 15 points. Meanwhile, Akarian Morgan capitalized in her second start, finishing with 13 points.
For a second-straight game, Sam Houston (1-1) dominated the boards, led by a career-high 13 rebounds from Kiera McKinney and eight from Cooper. The Kats out-rebounded the Wildcats, 57-30, marking the squad’s best rebound margin since Nov. 23, 2015 against LSU-Alexandria (+35).
The Kats also continued their early-season trend of hot starts, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first two minutes while holding Wiley without a point over the first 4:16. By the end of the opening quarter, Sam Houston built a 13-point advantage.
The win was the most lopsided for Sam Houston since the squad defeated Nicholls by 39 points in 2001. Fifteen different Bearkats logged playing time in the win with 10 scoring. Hannah Knight logged her first playing time and points of the season, finishing with six. Lydia Baxter led the way with seven assists.
Sam Houston never trailed, limiting Wiley to 24 percent shooting. It marked the lowest percentage a non-conference opponent had shot against the Bearkats since Our Lady of the Lake was held to 21 percent from the field on Nov. 20, 2015.
The Kats shot 56 percent in the first half and led by 24 points at the intermission. Wiley’s 19 first-half points also marked the lowest first half total against a Sam Houston team since Texas Southern scored 16 in Huntsville on Dec. 3, 2014.
The home start bodes well for a Sam Houston team that will play its most games at Johnson Coliseum in program history (15). The squad continues its five-game homestand on Tuesday against Rice. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Head coach Brenda Nichols on the victory…
“Coming off Arkansas, we knew we needed to correct the turnovers and assists. I know we got two-above where we wanted turnover wise. We did a good job in the first half. I’m really happy with the way our players have come out. Our goal was 50 rebounds and we got 57. I am excited about the way we’re playing together as a team. Teams win championships.”
Head coach Brenda Nichols on the confidence level of the team…
“I think the confidence level is huge with this young group. Having these early games and home games is so exciting. They can stay at home and get fired up. We had a great crowd. I am really proud of our assistant coaches who went out there and got the teams to come in. The more we can build this confidence level helps going into Southland play.”
Head coach Brenda Nichols on the ability to dominate the game… “I am very pleased but I think we still have to come out with a little more intensity after halftime. We do need to work on that. We can’t come out like that against an LSU or Southern Miss. Our assist-to-turnover ratio is very important as well and something we will continue to work on.”
Rachel Harrell on her performance and the team win…
“We’ve been focused on teamwork all week and we showed that today. Everyone is sharing the ball. We talked about assists after the last game. We increased those today. It’s nice to have a lot of fans in the stands cheering us on.”
Ashleigh Cooper on her breakout performance and the victory…
“Coming into the game, coach had goals for us. We all have the same focus and mindset. We are playing more of team ball this year. After my performance at Arkansas, I was down on myself. I knew I had to do something different. I am happy with it but I can do more.”
Jenniffer Oramas on opening home court with a win…
“It’s a really good feeling. We played as a team. I think if we can keep it up we can have a really good season. Especially since we’ve been in a zone, we’ve been communicating a lot more. We’ve been focusing a lot on reversing the ball. Coach made us reverse the ball 50 times before this game. I think we were able to do that.”