Sam Houston State University men’s and women’s basketball will both be competing in the Southland Conference Tournament at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy March 11-15, and the Bearkats have their eye on an NCAA berth.
Men’s Took a Step Back
After arguably the best regular season in school history last year, the men’s team has been up and down this season. They are in fourth place with an 11-7 conference record (18-11 overall) and are in position to receive a first round by.
Despite losing Cameron and Josh Delaney from last year, the Kats have been able to find other ways to succeed this year.
After starting only one game last season, sophomore guard Zach Nutall has become the everyday starting point guard. He is currently averaging 15.5 points per game with a season high 28 against Nicholls State University.
Senior center Kai Mitchell was last season’s SLC Newcomer of the Year after transferring from Hutchinson Community College. He is currently averaging 14.5 PPG with six rebounds per game and has been a force on defense.
For SHSU to win the SLC Tournament, Nutall and Mitchell will need to be consistently solid and the Kats’ bench will have to impact the game offensively.
Justice on the Court
The women’s basketball team has continued to build on its surprising 2018-19 campaign. After finishing fifth last season, the team is currently half a game behind first with a top-four spot locked up. They control their own destiny; if they win the last two games they clinch the first overall seed for the second time in school history.
Senior guard Jaylonn Walker is averaging 13.5 PPG with 56 total assists on the season. She also set a new school record with 41 points in a game against Abilene Christian University. She has been a staple for the team in their recent success alongside sophomore guard Amber Leggett.
Leggett is currently averaging 15.6 PPG, but her biggest impact has been on defense creating a strong force inside the paint alongside senior center Kiera McKinney.
Head coach Ravon Justice is at the forefront of the Kats consistency and has been the focal point of the team’s success. After their first SLC Tournament bid since 2015-16 last season, she gave SHSU its best start in school history this year (9-0). When Justice arrived, she implemented a new style of defensive play that will be able to win games down the stretch because of this defensive mentality and the team’s ability to outpace opponents.
The women will be competing for the number one seed while the men have an outside shot of winning the second seed but will most likely grab the third or fourth spot.