Bearkats finish as runner-ups in Conference tournament

Photo courtesy of Jacob Hodges

After finishing the regular season 13-7 overall and 9-5 in the Southland Conference, Sam Houston University women’s basketball entered the SLC Tournament in Katy as a No. 3 seed. They left Katy just falling short of their first SLC Championship.

Sam Houston entered the conference tournament riding a wave of momentum after winning three of their last four games, with their only loss in that stretch being to rival Stephen F. Austin State University.

Flanked by sharpshooting senior guard Faith Cook and the SLC Player of the Year junior forward Amber Leggett, the Bearkats were poised to enter Katy with something to prove.

Sam Houston women’s basketball had never gone to the NCAA Women’s Tournament in program history. The Bearkats have previously appeared twice in the SLC Championship game, with the last being in 2016 as the seven seed in a 69-62 loss to the University of Central Arkansas.

Bearkats roll through quarterfinals behind Leggett career-high
The No. 3 Bearkats faced the No. 6 Nicholls State University Colonels in the tournament quarterfinals on March 12.

The Bearkats split the regular-season series with the Colonels as the Bearkats lost in Thibodaux, Louisiana, 89-82, and won back in Huntsville, 72-58.

Sam Houston held a lead after each quarter of play and after outscoring Nicholls 51-22 in the second half, the Bearkats cruised to an 89-59 win. Leggett led all scorers with 36 points and the Bearkats defense held the Colonels’ leading scorer, Chelsea Cain, to only 16 points.

Cookin’ up the upset to advance to finals
The following day, Sam Houston matched up with the No. 2 seed in the tournament, the Southeastern Louisiana University Lady Lions.

The tandem of Cook and Leggett combined for 46 points against the Lady Lions in the game, but it was Cook who had the late-game heroics for the Bearkats.          

With 12 seconds remaining in regulation, Cook drove into the paint and knocked down what would be the game-winning shot and after a Lady Lions miss as the horn sounded, Sam Houston was off to the SLC Championship game for the third time in program history.

However, the Bearkats faced a tall task as they met their rival from Nacogdoches, the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks.

The Ladyjacks had won both regular-season matchups with Sam Houston in a 104-69 victory in Nacogdoches and a 69-57 win in Huntsville.

Unable to stop the undefeated
In the championship game, the Bearkats kept the pace against the Ladyjacks as the score was 37-32 in favor of Stephen F. Austin going into the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately for the Bearkats, the Ladyjacks pulled away in the fourth quarter as the Bearkats could not get the shots to fall at the right time as the final score was 56-45 and the Ladyjacks were off to the NCAA Women’s Championship tournament.

Prior to the start of the season, Sam Houston was picked second in the Southland Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll and that is exactly where the Bearkats finished the season.

Despite falling short in their championship endeavors, the Bearkats look toward the 2021-2022 season, including Cook returning and exercising her letter-year option.

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