Post player Angela Beadle stepped up when it mattered the most.
Beadle came up with three huge blocks with time winding down to seal the 79-76 victory over the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders.
“They were awesome,” Beadle, who finished with 9 points and seven rebounds said. “The last couple of seconds, big hustle plays like that count. It hyped up our team and we ran with it.”
After Beadle scored the go-ahead layup with 31 seconds left to give Sam Houston (10-9, 5-3 Southland) the 77-76 lead, Texas A&M Corpus Christi tried to make something happen as Brittany Mbamalu drove down the lane, but was blocked by Beadle.
The Islanders (9-10, 2-6 Southland) recovered the blocked shot and tried again, but Beadle made another blocked and forced the turnover that allowed Johnson to get to the line after being fouled with 9.5 seconds left.
Johnson, who led the team with 17 points, made one of her free throws to increase the Bearkat lead to 78-76, giving the Islanders another chance at possibly tying the game or taking the lead.
A&M-Corpus Christi went down the court and Brandi Huff, who was surrounded by Bearkat players, tried to make a move and put in the lay-up.
But Beadle again, blocked the shot and got possession of the ball, where she was immediately fouled with .9 seconds left in the game.
Though Beadle made one of her two free throws to increase the lead to 79-76, the Islanders couldn't develop a play as time ran out and the Bearkats celebrated in jubilation.
“Beadle has that experience and she needed to come out and be big these last few minutes,” Bearkat coach Brenda Nichols said. “She did her job.”
Sam Houston made up for their slow start to the game.
The Islanders went at the Bearkats by attacking the inside, which allowed them to get to the line in the early minutes of the first half.
As a result, Corpus Christi scored eight of their 19 points from the line to extend the lead to 19-8.
Sam Houston went on a 6-0 run to pull within 19-14.
Every time the Bearkats chipped away to cut the lead, the Islanders found a way to extend it.
The Bearkats drew within a possession at 38-35 with a layup by Maggie Lorenz, who finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
But a combination of turnovers and some mental breakdowns in defense allowed the Islanders to go on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 45-35.
However, Sam Houston rebounded for their mistakes in the closing minutes when Lorenz hit a layup and a few plays later, Fife, who totaled 10 points, four rebounds and four assist, hustled towards the rim at the missed shot and put it back into the net to go into halftime trailing 45-39.
“The two were stepping up in practice and it showed tonight,” Beadle said of Fife and Lorenz. “They had the opportunity to get a lot of minutes and they made use of them. I'm really proud of them.
The Bearkats carried the momentum into the second half and outscored the Islanders 19-13 in the first 13 minutes of the second half to tie the game at 58 with 7:58 left in the game.
“I told them at half time, 'We need to hit the boards, we need to do what we know how to do,'” Nichols said. “That is what they did in the second half.”
Amanda Barnes, who had 13 points, made a trey to give Sam Houston a 63-60 lead.
From there, the Bearkats went on 9-3 run to increase their lead to 72-63.
However, the Islanders answered with 13-3 run of their own to regain the lead at 76-75 that set up the drama.
Nichols said that this was a total team effort that needs to carry over to Saturday's matchup against Houston Baptist at 1:30 p.m.
“I just think we need to continue this momentum on our home floor in this stretch,” Nichols said. “This is good timing right now. We need to take advantage of it.”