HUNTSVILLE – The Sam Houston State Bearkats rolled to a 75-60 win over Houston Baptist on Saturday afternoon at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum, and in the process took over sole possession of first place in the Southland Conference race.
The Kats (19-7, 14-3 SLC) entered Saturday a half game back of league-leading Stephen F. Austin, but with SFA's loss at UIW and the Kats' win, SHSU surged a half game ahead with just three games left in the regular season.
Caoch Ravon Justice's squad also picked up their 14th league win of the year, setting a new program record, and drew to within one win of reaching 20 wins for only the third time in program history.
The game also served as Senior Day for the Kats' six-member class of La'Sha Haynes, Jaylonn Walker, Kiera McKinney, Rachel Harrell, Jenniffer Oramas and Tia Harston
The Kats led by just two points at the half, but outscored HBU (6-19, 2-14 SLC) 42-29 in the second half, leading by as much as 22 points in the fourth quarter.
Much of that was due to the offensive efforts of Faith Cook and Courtney Cleveland, each who finished with career-high point totals. Cook made the most of her 29 minutes, canning five 3-point baskets on her way to 26 points to go with three assists. Meanwhile, Cleveland pumped in 20 points to go with nine boards in just 27 minutes of work.
Kiera McKinney and Amber Leggett also added eight points each, while La'Sha Haynes had 11 points and a game-high six assists.
Sam Houston will now go into the final three games of the season with their championship destiny in their own hands with only games against the next three teams in the standings remaining. The Kats will kick off that stretch on Wednesday when they travel to Abilene to take on ACU, followed by a final week that includes a home game against A&M-Corpus Christi and at SFA.