LAKE CHARLES, LA (McNeesesports.com) - McNeese women’s basketball struggled with the pressure of Sam Houston State early on and the Bearkats scored 36 points from the free throw line and 30 points off 25 Cowgirl turnovers to walk away with a 93-80 Southland Conference win here Wednesday night.
“Obviously we are disappointed in tonight’s loss and its one we should have gotten,” said head coach Kacie Cryer. “Credit Sam Houston State for taking us out of our game plan and making us play chaotic early. I thought they had a little more effort and toughness than we did to start the game then we slowly got ourselves going in the second half and our kids did a good job adjusting to our game plan.”
McNeese (5-15, 3-6 SLC) placed four players in double-figure scoring and was led by junior Regan Bolton’s 22 points. Bre’Ashlee Jones and Callie Maddox both scored 12 points and Damilola Balogun recorded her fourth career double-double to end the game with a career-high 18 rebounds along with 10 points.
Sam Houston State, who improved to 11-9 overall and 6-4 in conference action also had four players score in double figures. Jennifer Oramas and Lydia Baxter both scored a game-high 27 points. Jaylonn Walker chipped in with 13 and La’Sha Haynes scored 10 points. Both Baxter and Haynes ended the game with double-doubles by collecting 10 rebounds apiece.
The Bearkats held a slim 21-18 first quarter lead but went on an 11-0 run in the second quarter to take its largest lead of the game 43-27 but the Cowgirls fought back and made an 11-4 run in the final 3:10 in the quarter to head into the locker room only trailing by nine points.
SHSU opened the second half with another mini-run to extend its lead to 53-40 early in the third quarter but once again the Cowgirls retaliated with a 13-2 run to get within two points following a Bolton three-pointer with 2:54 left in the stanza.
The Bearkats scored nine of their last 11 points of the third quarter from the free throw line to take a 66-60 lead into the final quarter.
McNeese opened the final quarter on a scoop layup by Jahquell Robinson to cut the lead to four (66-62) but five straight points by the Bearkats upped their lead back up to nine. The Cowgirls got as close at three points (73-70) with 7:36 to play but couldn’t get any shots to fall within a five-minute scoring drought that put SHSU up by 15 (85-70) with 2:41 left. SHSU scored their final six points of the game from the charity stripe to walk away with the win.
“We were able to slow them down and we executed better on offense and were able to cut it to three and gave ourselves a chance, but they put their foot on the gas pedal in the fourth quarter and we tried to claw back but fell short,” Cryer said.
The Cowgirls ended the game outshooting SHSU from the field and outrebounded them by a slim margin 35-34. SHSU, who came into the game shooting 69.8 percent from the free throw line, walked away with an 87.8 percent here tonight after making 36 of 41 attempts.
McNeese will return home Saturday to host Northwestern State in a 1 p.m. game which is the first game of a doubleheader with the Cowboys.