Natchitoches La. -- Looking to nail down an undisputed Southland Conference championship and the number one seed in next week’s league tournament in Katy, the Sam Houston State women’s team stumbled in a 59-50 loss to Northwestern State Saturday afternoon at Prather Coliseum.
Sa m Houston (17-13, Southland 13-5) can still avoid a co-championship with Oral Roberts if ORU falls to Central Arkansas in a game that began at 2 p.m. Northwestern State ends the regular season 12-17 and 7-11 in league action.
Poor shooting and a strong performance inside by Demon post player Jasmine Upchurch did in the Bearkats..
Upchurch was the game’s leading scorer with 22 points for a Demon squad that hit 23-of-50 from the floor (46.0%).
After going 8-for-9 from the field in the game’s opening seven minutes, Sam Houston went 8-for-46 in the final 33 minutes of action. For the day, the Kats hit 16-of-55 (29.1%), only the fifth time this year the Sam Houston women have hit less than 30 percent.
“Obviously, this wasn’t our best day, but in the end, we’re still taking a conference championship trophy home,” head coach Brenda Nichols said. “I’m awfully proud of this group and what they’ve accomplished this year, especially our seniors. Now we regroup and get ready for the Southland tournament next week in Katy.
Sequeena Thomas led the Bearkats with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Thomas dominated in the opening minutes, hitting six of her first seven shots including a pair of three pointers to put the Kats up 17-11 after seven minutes.
Sam Houston could not extend the lead any farther. After going 8-of-9 from the field in the first seven minutes, the Kats sank only two of their next 17 shots in the half.
Northwestern State ended the period with an 8-2 run to take a 26-24 lead into the locker room at intermission. Upchurch scored the go-ahead basket on a fast break lay-up at the first half buzzer.
The Bearkats’ cold shooting continued in the second half as Sam Houston sank only two of its next 19 shots. Northwestern State opened with an 11-3 run to go up 37-27 with 15:31. The Demons led by as many as 16, 53-37, with 5:32 to go in the game. The Bearkats were 6-of-29 (20.7%) in the second period.
Britni Martin and Chanice Smith both scored 12 points. Martin, who went 6-for-7 from the free throw line, did not hit her first field goal until the 4:31 mark in the second half.
Tickets for the Southland Conference tournament are available on line at www.gobearkats.com or at the SHSU ticket office at (936) 294-1729.