FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Everything seemed to be working for Sam Houston State early. That momentum could not be carried over into the second half.
The Bearkats led by as many as 13 points and took a five-point lead into the half only to see Arkansas hit seven second-half three pointers as the Razorbacks upended Sam Houston, 65-54 in the season opener on Friday morning at Bud Walton Arena.
Sam Houston (0-1) limited Arkansas to five first-quarter points, the fewest in a frame against a Bearkat team since LSU-Alexandria scored as many in the third quarter on Nov. 23, 2015. The Razorbacks (1-0) responded, steadily trimming their deficit entering the break.
Dominique Maxwell hit a pair of buckets including a 3-pointer with 7:26 remaining in the second quarter, extending Sam Houston’s lead to 13 points at 20-7; however, Arkansas out-scored the Kats, 16-5 over the next seven minutes before Jenniffer Oramas drilled a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left in the half.
Arkansas hit 8 of 16 from the field in the third quarter, beginning the period on a 15-0 run. Sam Houston was held without a field goal for six-plus minutes to begin the frame until Rachel Harrell drilled a 3-pointer, one of seven on the day for the Bearkats.
Sam Houston did not go away late, hitting five of its last six shots. Oramas led the way with 11 points while adding six rebounds and four assists. Maxwell made a strong impression in her Bearkat debut, totaling 10 points including hitting a pair of 3-pointers alongside seven boards.
Lydia Baxter scored nine points while leading the squad with eight rebounds. Sam Houston won the battle of the boards, 51-39 while the bench contributed 27 points. One season after committing 27 turnovers at Arkansas, the Kats trimmed that number to 15.
The Bearkats begin a five-game homestand next Friday, taking on Wiley College at 11 a.m. from Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. Season tickets are on sale by calling the Sam Houston ticket office at (936) 294-1729 or by visiting GoBearkats.com.
Head coach Brenda Nichols on the team’s season-opening performance…
“Our goal was to get 40-plus rebounds and out-rebound them. I think that has been a weakness for us. I am proud of our team to dominate that area. In the exhibition we had 27 turnovers. We ran 15 suicides for that. I told them our goal was nothing past 15 and we did that. I thought the intensity in the first quarter was great. They got hot in the second half and their shots were falling. I was proud of us coming into an SEC school and representing the Southland Conference and Sam Houston.”
Head coach Brenda Nichols on the strong start and lead at the half…
“We talked a lot about teamwork and teams win championships. We know we have to work together. Our kids believe they can do anything. We were on fire early on. We knew they would change some things in the second half. We were prepared for that. Our shots just didn’t hit. When we got down about 20-something for them to battle back and lose by 11, I give kudos to my players. Everyone is working so hard to change the image.”
Head coach Brenda Nichols on returning home for five-straight games...
“I think playing at home will be good for us. This team is like a good pot of gumbo. We have some seasoned players with some younger players. We have a bit of everything. I am excited to get back and let the kids settle down. Wiley will be very athletic and so will our non-conference opponents. That will provide us a good test heading into conference.”