Kendrick leads Texans past Bearkats in close contest in Huntsville
HUNTSVILLE — Just when you thought the Texans were going to cruise through their matchup with the Bearkats on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Sam Houston fought back to make it a close finish.
Malaya Kendrick's playmaking and Lucy Benson's late rebound spoiled Sam Houston's comeback bid to lift Tarleton to a 62-61 win at the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum in Huntsville on Monday. The Texans improved to 11-6 overall, 3-3 in WAC play, 4-3 on the road and remain perfect following a loss this season, now 6-0. Sam Houston fell to 5-10, 0-4 in the WAC, 5-4 at home.
This was Tarleton and Sam Houston's first matchup in nearly 40 years. The Texans now lead the all-time series 2-1 with the win in their first meeting since 1983.
Kendrick scored a career-high 18 points, adding nine rebounds, four assists and four steals in 36 minutes of action. She made the go-ahead free throws with 32 seconds remaining to put the Texans ahead 62-61. She then stole the ball on the Bearkats' ensuing possession with three seconds left and was fouled with just over a second remaining. On a rare couple of misses, Benson outhustled the Bearkats to come up with the rebound, allowing the time to expire and secure the victory for the purple and white. The first one to greet Benson with a hug and smile? Kendrick, of course.
Tarleton had a 13-point lead at halftime and a 16-point lead midway through the third quarter, keeping the gym silent, but Sam Houston mustered the energy to come all the way back. They closed the third quarter on an 18-7 run to trail by five entering the fourth. In the final frame, Tarleton held a small advantage all the way until there were 45 seconds remaining, when Sam Houston finally broke through to take the lead on a Faith Cook layup. That set up the heroics by Kendrick and Benson, with the point guard actually missing her layup but taking the offensive rebound, thus getting fouled to put her at the line for the go-ahead free throws.
Sam Houston got zero production on the scoreboard from their bench, where Tarleton was able to glean 19 points from. The Texans also outshot the Bearkats 23-of-52 (.442) to 23-of-57 (.404) and outscored them in the paint 38-28.
Jurnee President scored a season-high 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, adding three rebounds and two steals. Seynabou Thiam blocked three shots to go with four points and four rebounds. Jenna Dick and Nya Mitchels led the bench with six points apiece.
Sam Houston's Cook had a game-high 19 points. Madelyn Batista recorded a double-double with 17 points (7-13 FG), 10 rebounds and three steals. Kaylee Jefferson tallied 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, adding six rebounds and two blocks.
The Texans will continue a three-game road trip on Thursday at California Baptist at 8 p.m. CT. The Lancers were the WAC's preseason favorite and are just a half-game back of first place at 3-0, owning an overall record of 12-2. They've won seven straight and are 9-1 in their last 10.