The Sam Houston State women’s basketball team begins the defense of its 2013 Southland Conference championship Thursday night when the Bearkats travel to Natchitoches, La., to face Northwestern State.
Tipoff time is 5:30 p.m. for the women’s and men’s doubleheader at Prather Coliseum. The game is the first of 18 regular season contests for the Kats who earned their first Southland championship in 26 years in the league last season.
Sam Houston and Northwestern State both have picked up some of the league’s top non-conference wins during pre-Southland action this winter.
The Bearkats own victories over Louisiana-Lafayette, Rice and Missouri-Kansas City. The Demons have posted wins over Houston, New Mexico State and North Dakota State.
The Kats have not played since a 78-46 loss at TCU on December 20 and will be looking to end a four-game losing streak. Sam Houston completed non-conference action with a 5-6 record.
“We’ve played some tough teams on the road including Texas, Arkansas and TCU. Going up against those teams is something that makes us better and helps prepare us for conference,” SHSU head coach Brenda Nichols said. “We’re excited about starting conference play.”
Sam Houston is led by two of the top players in the league this season. Junior post player Angela Beadle leads the Southland in rebounds (9.5 per game) and ranked fifth in scoring (15.5). She was the Southland “Player of the Week” on Dec. 2 after leading the Bearkat women to wins over Rice and Kansas City.
Senior guard Jasmin Johnson is second in the conference in assists (4.6) and also scores in double figures with 12.9 points per game.
Keisha Lee, a 5-5 guard, leads the Demons with 15.5 points per game. She ranks sixth in the Southland in scoring.
The Kats and the Demons split in their two meetings last year, Sam Houston earning a 72-61 win in Huntsville but falling to Northwestern State 59-50 in the regular season finale in Natchitoches.
Sam Houston has won only five times in 27 trips to Natchitoches during the Bearkats’ 26 seasons of Southland women’s basketball. The Demons lead the all-time series with Sam Houston 36 victories to 16.
The game will be broadcast live in the Huntsville area on KSAM 101.7 FM.
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