HUNTSVILLE – The Sam Houston State Bearkats forced 40 turnovers and ran past the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets in the opener of the 2019-20 season on Wednesday night at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
The Bearkats (1-0) were led by seniors Jenniffer Oramas and Kiera McKinney as two of three players who to score in the double-digits. Oramas led all players with 19 points, while McKinney finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots in tallying her first career double-double.
Howard Payne struggled against the Bearkat defense that forced 40 turnovers for the game, resulting in 55 points for the home team. Freshman Rahmena Henderson came out strong in her collegiate debut, adding 10 points off the bench and lead the team with five steals.
In all, the Kats hit 42.9 percent of their shots from the field, including 10 from beyond the arc. They were just 2-for-14 from long distance in the opening half with both makes coming from point guard Faith Cook, but were 8-for-14 in the second 20 minutes to help distance themselves from the Yellow Jackets.
Cook finished with eight points and three assists, while sixth-year senior La’Sha Haynes racked up nine boards. Oramas led the team with six assists with the Kats picking up assists on 29 of their 36 made buckets.
The Kats started off slowly, not getting their first field goal until a bucket from Courtney Cleveland nearly four minutes into the game; however, it did not take long after that for them to get going. HPU held a 13-10 lead at the 3:32 mark of the opening quarter, but the Kats reeled off the final nine points of the period and never looked back.
They had the clamps on defensively in the second quarter, not allowing an HPU field goal for nearly eight minutes on their way to building as much as a 20-point lead before going into the locker room up 42-23.
Jaylonn Walker was held scoreless in the opening half, but canned a pair of triples in the first two minutes of the third quarter to get the Kats going. Oramas had a pair of scores in a 10-2 lead later in the quarter that upped the advantage to 61-31. The lead would continue to grow in the final period, thanks in large part to five 3-point makes by the Kats.
The Kats will be back in action on Sunday afternoon when they host the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns in a 3:00 p.m. matinee at Johnson Coliseum.