HUNTSVILLE- Abilene Christian proved to be a too much for Sam Houston down the stretch, using a 7-2 run in the final two minutes to come back and down the Bearkats, 75-72 Saturday afternoon at Johnson Coliseum.
Abilene Christian (14-7, 8-3 SLC) solidified their spot in the top three in the Southland while the Kats (4-16, 1-10 SLC) lost in dramatic fashion for the second consecutive game.
Sam Houston’s bench outscored Abilene Christian’s 31-11, powered by the trio of Kevyn Ferriera, Ashleigh Cooper and Akarian Morgan who combined for 28 of those points.
Rachel Harrell and Lydia Baxter paced the Kats with 12 points apiece, while Morgan had 11 and both Ferriera and Kiera McKinney hit double figures with 10 points.
Breanna Wright led the Wildcat offensive attack with a game-high 31 points on a night in which she canned seven of her 10 attempts from downtown and was a perfect 8 -8 from the charity stripe.
Dominique Golightly was the only other Wildcat in double figures as she stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points plus 2 steals, 2 assists, 5 rebounds and a block.
The Bearkats hit the road for a quick one-game road trip against A&M Corpus Christi on Wednesday with tip-off set for 7 p.m.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST HALF
The Wildcats came out on fire hitting four of their first five attempts from deep to lead 14-3 with 5:55 left in the opening period. Jenniffer Oramas would then go on to can a triple off a Morgan dime to end the three-minute Bearkat scoring drought to spark a quick five-point spurt, but Wright answered the bell with back-to-back triples for the Wildcats.
The Bearkats responded to the Wildcats huge offensive quarter with a 22-point performance as well one-point shy of their highest opening-quarter mark on the season, sinking five straight field goals to bring the game to within four at the end of the period. ACU showed their 13th highest three-point percentage ranking coming into the game was no fluke, sinking seven of their 11 first quarter attempts.
Two Ashleigh Cooper free throws would bring the game to within two with eight minutes left in the half, but Abilene Christian responded with a quick 6-0 run in the next minute thanks to a Golightly 3-point play and triple to push the Wildcat advantage back to eight. After the Golightly 3-pointer; however, the Bearkats did not allow another Wildcat field goal the rest of the way and only two Wildcat free throws, with the Kats knotting the game up at 36 with two minutes left off an Morgan triple.
Ferriera would go on to put the Kats ahead by four at the break thanks to a couple of free throws and a nice mid-range jumper from the corner. The biggest storyline of the first half was the performance of the Bearkat defense in the second quarter, allowing only two Wildcat points in the final seven minutes while forcing six Wildcat turnovers within that span. The Kats were lights out in the first half in which they shot at a 56.5 percent clip from the floor and knocked down 10 of their 11 shots from the foul line.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE SECOND HALF
The Wildcats got five quick points out of the gates, but the Bearkat defense locked in once again not allowing another Wildcat point in the next three minutes and forced six straight misses as they built their lead up to 54-41 midway through the third draining five of their first seven attempts from the field in the period. The Wildcats fought back with a 10-2 run to cut the Bearkat lead to five entering the final period.
The final period started off quick for both sides with both teams combining for 18 points in the first three and a half minutes capped off by a Ferriera jumper from the corner to push the Kats ahead by seven with six minutes remaining in the contest. Sara Williamson would then convert layups on back-to-back possessions for the Wildcats to bring the score to 68-63 advantage Sam Houston with four minutes remaining.
Kayla Galindo sank a triple with 2:55 left to pull the Wildcats within three, on the ensuing Wildcat possession Galindo found herself at the free throw line where she knocked down both attempts to knot up the game at 68 with two minutes remaining. Lydia Baxter responded with a lay-up to give the Kats the lead on the next Bearkat possession.
The next possession was a deja-vu moment for the Bearkats as Wright canned a triple from straight on to give the Wildcats the one-point advantage with 44 ticks remaining, their first lead of the second half. But the Bearkats had different plans in mind as Morgan converted on the tough layup to give the Kats the lead with 34 seconds remaining.
Wright then found herself at the stripe to hit two free throws that proved to be too much for the Kats to handle. The Kats had a chance on the other end, but a turnover near midcourt gave the ball back to ACU. Two more freebies from Wright upped the lead to 75-72 and forced the Kats to go for the tie in the final 10 seconds; however, a pair of desperation tries went awry as time expired.