Sam Houston State recorded their first win on the season with senior guard Jasmine Johnson tallying 31 points against Louisiana-Lafayette for an 83-73 win.
Following two road losses against the University of Arkansas and University of Arkansas-Little Rock, the Bearkats strengthened their approach on the free throw line to maintain a steady 10-point lead throughout second period against the Cajuns.
“When you go on the road to start off with and you know they’re going to be tough knowing you’re going to take a hit here or there, coming home and getting a home win just sparks everybody and gets them motivated,” SHSU head coach Brenda Nichols said. “Against UALR we lost the game by four, just in the first half we missed seven [free throws] last week. They’re supposed to make 50 a day right now so they see how important it is.”
Nichols started three post players against Louisiana-Lafayette with center Angela Beadle and forward Nyha Carter controlling the boards throughout the first half. The Bearkats maintained a 5-point advantage through the first period with Beadle controlling the paint, pulling down 9 boards and posting 8 points.
SHSU began to pull away from Louisiana-Lafayette in the closing minutes of the first period with guards Amanda Barnes, Summer Fife and Tayler Dorsey controlling the clock and working the post for a 10-point, 43-33 lead, to close the first period.
Nichols said she wants to continue to take advantage of SHSU’s size and maintain a big starting lineup to continue their strength on the boards.
“I think our inside game is really dominating this year,” she said. “I mean we’re starting three post players, like a triple post, that’s very intimidating. It changed [Louisiana-Lafayette’s] lineup at the beginning because they knew we were starting big.”
Fouls and questionable officiating slowed game play in the second period as emotions spilled onto the hardwood from Louisiana-Lafayette’s coaching staff.
Fouls from both teams nearly tripled in the second period compared to the opening 20 minutes. Nichols said officiating crews stated before the season the months of November and December would be tightly officiated with high-fouling games, a statement that led to Beadle fouling out in the final minutes on a blocked shot.
“Any other night that last call should have been a blocked shot,” Nichols said.
Louisiana-Lafayette slowly picked away at SHSU’s lead throughout the second period. Guard Keke Veal managed the Cajun’s offense, working inside the paint. Cajun head coach Garry Brodhead aggressively expressed his distaste for the officiating crew to slowly become a part of the game.
Although the Cajuns couldn’t break SHSU’s hold on offense, fouls continued to ravage both teams. In the final minutes of the match, Brodhead was ejected from the game due to his actions on the sideline.
Brodhead’s ejection signified Louisiana-Lafayette’s last breath of momentum on offense as Johnson took control for SHSU to run out the clock.
“When you go on the road to start off with and you know they’re going to be tough knowing you’re going to take a hit here or there,” Nichols said. “Coming home and getting a home win just sparks everybody and gets them motivated.”
SHSU will get an early look at Southland Conference opponent Houston Baptist Wednesday at Johnson Coliseum. Nicholls said HBU will turn into an in-house rivalry with former SHSU assistant coach Lauren Tippet now a part of the Huskie organization.
Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. at Johnson Coliseum.