One thing is for certain Friday at 11 a.m. when the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions come to visit Sam Houston for a non-conference women's basketball game.
Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum will be rocking and loud.
Friday marks the sixth annual "Pack the House" Challenge game with more than 3,000 elementary students from Walker County area schools bused to the campus to watch NCAA Division I women's basketball.
Five years ago, in the first "Pack the House" contest, a school women's basketball record crowd of 2,261 saw the Bearkats play Southern Misssissippi.
Each season, the attendance has grown with 2,456 fans for Ole Miss in 2009; 2,503 for Centenary in 2010; 3,141 for Mary Hardin-Baylor in 2011 and 3,862 for A&M-Commerce last November.
"It’s so much for the coaches and players to have all the kids there," Sam Houston head coach Brenda Nichols said. "If any fans haven't experienced a Pack the House, It is an experience that they will not want to miss."
"Pack the House" is national effort by NCAA Division I in which conferences and institutions compete to build attendance. The NCAA awards prizes to each winner who in turn donates the $500 to the nonprofit organization of each winning institution's choice.
Almost two-thirds of the Division I membership - 184 institutions - participated in the effort last year that attracted more than 559,000 fans.
"Our girls really look forward to the 'Pack the House' game. With all those kids in the coliseum, it's just a great atmosphere," Nichols said. "It's a great way to introduce area youngsters to college athletics. Every person that attends is counted in the overall total and attendance is a major component to winning the award. We certainly hope that Sam Houston students, faculty and staff will want to come spent their lunchtime with us Friday and join in the fun."
Sam Houston brings a 2-2 record into the contest with A&M-Commerce. Both losses came on the road at Arkansas and Arkansas-Little Rock the opening weekend of the season. The Kats bounced back tp defeat Louisiana-Lafayette 83-73 and Houston Baptist 85-68.
Senior guard Jasmine Johnson leads the Bearkats with 17.3 points per game including 31 in the victory over the Ragin’ Cajuns. Junior post player Angela Beadle is posting 14.3 points and 11.0 rebounds per contest.
"We've continued to improve every game," Nichols said. "We like what we see -- doing those little things, playing without the ball, still working even when you're not getting the ball. That is what makes champions."
Bearkat women's basketball tickets are on sale online now at www.gobearkats.com/tickets or at the SHSU Athletic Ticket Office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ticket office telephone number is (936) 294-1729.
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