HUNTSVILLE – Kiera McKinney grabbed an offensive board – twice – on the same possession and used a put-back with 38 seconds remaining to break the tie, helping Sam Houston State to an eventual 68-66 victory on Saturday afternoon at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
The game, which included four lead changes and three ties, saw Sam Houston overcome a nine-point first half deficit, thanks to an impressive showing on the glass. The Bearkats (2-3) out-rebounded the Celts, 49-39, and were clutch at the free throw line.
Sam Houston trailed by a pair with under two minutes left when McKinney grabbed her first key offensive rebound and put one back to knot the game at 64. The sophomore provided the Kats the lead with 38 seconds left and an unforced turnover put the ball back in Sam Houston’s hands with 20 seconds remaining.
Three consecutive fouls sent Jenniffer Oramas to the free throw line with eight seconds to go and the sophomore capitalized, stretching the lead to four by hitting the pair. St. Thomas (4-2) could only muster a layup as time expired on its final possession.
Meanwhile, Sam Houston’s Rachel Harrell posted a career-high 15 points, including five in the third quarter. The sophomore guard drained a trio of 3-pointers and went 6-of-14 from the field. Kevyn Ferriera posted double-digits for the first time in her Bearkat career, totaling 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting.
Anastacia Mickens brought in an impressive 14 rebounds with seven coming on each end. After trailing 10-2 early, the Kats slowed climbed back, using a board from the freshman that resulted in a Tia Harston layup. On the next possession, Jada Ballew put one home for the first lead at 22-21 at 5:34 in the second.
Sam Houston struck for seven 3-pointers and went 11-of-13 at the charity stripe in the victory. The squad was able to overcome 23 turnovers as well as 22 points from the Celts’ Sheridan Hopkins who hit six jumpers and was one of three St. Thomas players in double figures.
The Kats return to action in 10 days when the squad closes out a season-high five game homestand against Jackson State. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. from Johnson Coliseum. After the tilt, Sam Houston hits the road for four of its next five.
Head coach Brenda Nichols on the comeback victory…
“A ‘W’ no matter who it is a ‘W.’ We needed to come in and relax and play. I think my kids settled down. We didn’t have great shooting percentages except for the third. We were steady in what we were doing. We calmed down, ran the offense and stuck to the plan. We needed to do that. I am very proud of them.”
Head coach Brenda Nichols on the McKinney jumper and Oramas free throws to seal the win…
“I think with Kiera, the more she plays and matures … we know she has to get more physical and she’s doing all that. She likes to play facing the basket and we’re asking to her play inside. Every game she is getting better. That is a mature player getting the rebound and going back up. That was a huge move for her. Jenny has been a bit off and I think she just needs to settle in and play her game. She did that. She came in during a clutch situation and did what she needed to do.”
Head coach Brenda Nichols on Mickens being a sparkplug in the victory…
“She came in this summer and got hurt. She was out until October. She is finally getting into her groove now. This is probably the first where I have seen a lot of her under control. We knew a long time ago she would be a good player. We’re asking her to do some things she doesn’t normally do. She is taking her role very serious.”