CANTON, Michigan -- After a strong first day at the NCAA Bowling Championship, Sam Houston State couldn’t duplicate the same success on Friday afternoon.
They dropped a pair of matches to Arkansas State and Fairleigh Dickinson, eliminating them from the championship.
“It was a tough day for us,” said head coach Brad Hagen. “I thought we played pretty well, we just couldn’t come up with the big shots when we needed them. We had hoped to improve on our showing two years ago on Friday, but unfortunately it didn’t happen for us.”
The Kats entered the day as the No. 3 qualifier, following a 5-2 day during Thursday’s qualifying round. Sam Houston defeated five of the eight seeded teams Thursday including wins over Central Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas State, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin-Whitewater to earn the No. 3 seed in Friday’s best-of-seven baker bracket play.
But the Kats got off to a slow start in the opening match against No. 6 Arkansas State.
Arkansas State came out hot and never slowed down, sweeping the Kats 4-0 in the opening round of the best-of-7 baker matches.
In the opening game, the Red Wolves started with three straight strikes while the Kats left the first two frames open. A late charge by the Kats was not enough as they fell 210-192.
Game 2 was more of the same in a 210-192 loss for the Kats. In Game 3 SHSU started strong, but an open frame in the fourth for the Kats, followed by four straight strikes by ASU lifted the Red Wolves to a 215-193 victory.
In the final game of the match, open frames once again cost the Bearkats, failing to pick up the spare in three of the first five frames and they couldn’t recover in a 193-172 loss.
“It is really difficult to try and come out of the losers bracket to get to the finals,” Hagen said. “We knew the importance of the first match, but just never could get anything going for us.”
In the final match of the day, the Kats fell 4-2 to Fairleigh Dickinson. FDU built an early lead taking the first two games.
The Knights were hot in Game 1, hitting strikes in seven of the first nine frames, cruising to a 227-166 win. In game 2 the Kats couldn’t hit consecutive strikes and FDU closed with six straight for a 205-178 win.
Sam Houston bounced back for a win in game 3, winning 201-195. FDU left the sixth frame open and the Kats answered with three straight from the 5th-7th. Erin Brown hit a strike in the 9th to lift the Kats.
In game four, the SHSU didn’t roll a strike until the ninth frame. Michelle Secours closed with three strikes in the 10th, but it wasn’t enough in a 214-193 loss.
The Kats stayed in the match in the fifth, escaping with a 181-179 win. They left the 10th frame open, but FDU came right back and did the same thing to give the Bearkats the win.
Needing a win to force a seventh game, the Kats had no answer for and FDU team that rolled their best game of the match. The Knights closed with six consecutive strikes to win the game 247-197 and close out the match.
“They gave us an opportunity there in the fifth to get back in the match, but we couldn’t take advantage,” Hagen said. “Give credit to FDU, they finished strong.”