The Sam Houston State University Bearkats basketball teams completed a sweep yesterday, both on the women’s and men’s side, in their conference openers to start the 2019-2020 campaign.
For the women’s game, they captured a 79-69 victory on the road in Natchitoches, La. The Bearkats put on a shooting clinic in the game, going for 54 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from behind the three-point line.
Something that did not help was the 23 turnovers that SHSU committed during the game. But, the Demons had a worse mark at 24 and some help on the offensive side of the ball is what balanced it out. Senior guard Jaylonn Walker put up 30 points to compliment sophomore forward Amber Leggett‘s 24. The Bearkats also grabbed 17 assists in the game, 10 coming combined from redshirt junior guard Faith Cook (5) and senior guard Jenniffer Oramas (5).
With the win, the Bearkats improved to 5-4 on the season overall and start out 1-0 in SLC play. Their next game will be on the road at 2 p.m. on Dec. 21 as they take on the New Orleans Privateers.
The men’s side also got it done Wednesday, taking care of business in their conference opener against the Northwestern State Demons by a final score of 92-79.
The Bearkats started off early with some mental miscues as redshirt junior forward RJ Smith hit a three to start a 5-0 run on the scoreboard, but then was called for a technical foul.
Bearkats head coach Jason Hooten highlighted the mental mistakes made in the game by the Bearkats, who ended with 22 personal fouls in the game as opposed to 19 for the Demons.
“I was dissapointed in our focus tonight,” Hooten said. “I thought we would be a little bit hungrier than that to start, and we’ve got to learn that when things don’t go our way that we need to move on and find other ways to play better and make things happen.”
With just over 14 minutes left in the first half of play, Smith made up for the technical by draining a wide open three to make it 13-8 before a timeout on the court was called by the Demons.
The Demons entered the bonus with 6:28 left in the first half of play after junior forward/center Bubba Furlong was called for his second foul of the game. However, the star of the first half was junior guard DeMarkus Lampley, who shot 3-of-4 from behind the three-point line.
Hooten talked about Lampley’s performance in the contest and about his impact on the team as a whole.
“A win is a win,” Hooten said. “Obviously, we didn’t play our best tonight. But it’s a conference opener, and I just want to give credit to Northwestern [State] because they had ten days off and those guys were really prepared. I thought Coach McConathy did a great job tonight. I thought that their kids played really, really hard and didn’t give up until the bitter end.”
To end the first half, redshirt sophomore forward Mark Tikhonenko hit three from the top of the key. Tikhonenko also finished the first half with two rebounds and an assist. The Bearkats finished the first half with an 11-point lead (43-32) while shooting just 38.9 percent from the field.
Heading into the first timeout of the second half, the Bearkats led the game by seven, 51-44. Something that plagued SHSU during the game was the foul trouble by the entire team. At this point of the game, the Bearkats had a total of 14 team fouls to the Demons 10.
Lampley talked about how this game was a testament to his role with the team.
“Individually, it was a big step up for me,” Lampley said. “A good break out game. I’ve been struggling a little bit in the slumps. Coming in as a junior, Coach Hooten wants me to step up and take a leadership role and tonight…it was a big game from me.”
The Bearkats contributed heavily off the bench, coming up with 43 of their 92 points off the bench, marking one of their higher totals on the season. The team as a whole contributed offensively with five players in double digits for points, led by Lampley with 17.
The Bearkats will finalize their home stand at 2 p.m. this Saturday as they host the University of New Orleans Privateers in what is sure to be a tough game.