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Comeback bid falls short for Bearkats

Jan. 20—HUNTSVILLE — Despite trailing by 20 at the 3:39 mark of the third quarter, Sam Houston made it a game in the final minutes against Liberty.

With a 25-point fourth quarter, the Bearkats got the game within single digits but the clock became an issue.

Liberty took advantage of being in the bonus, as they hit four free throws across the final 51 seconds, which kept the game out of reach as the Lady Flames went 0-7 down the stretch and was held without a field goal for the final 5:25.

Sam Houston dropped its eighth straight game- four being in Conference USA play- as they fell 84-77 in the Saturday afternoon contest.

This season has been filled with a lot of bumpy roads for Sam Houston as they lost sophomore guard Bryana Block before the season. The loss has left the Kats looking for somebody to fill the role, despite bringing back Sydnee Kemp and gaining transfer Kassidy Dixon and Diana Rosenthal.

Against Liberty, Rosenthal went off for 13 points in the second half of the game. Paired with Kemp's 14 points, the Kats had an opportunity to get back in the game.

The major difference was Liberty's ability to score inside the paint. The Lady Flames scored 48 of their 84 points from inside. Liberty had 15 points from behind the arc. Junior guard Emma Hess was the real difference maker in the game for Liberty.

Hess scored a game-high 30 points before fouling out with just under 90 seconds remaining. Her 30 points also moved her into the top 50 in scoring history for the Lady Flames with a career total of 650 points and counting.

She wasn't the lone member to have a strong afternoon. Liberty's Emily Howard grabbed 14 points. Junior guard Bella Smuda grabbed her 10th double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Sam Houston has relied heavily on their offensive rebounding to keep them in games this year and nothing was different on Saturday. The Bearkats shot 32.8% from the field and made it for it with 22 offensive boards. The Kats finished with 21 defensive rebounds to go along with it.

But getting second-chance opportunities is half the battle. Sam Houston was outscored 19-13 in the category.

For Sam Houston head coach Ravon Justice, it's about getting the right people on the court at the right time. Senior Shanti Henry was one of those members. She came out the bench and looked to be on a roll hitting two first-quarter threes, but it wore off as she was shut out in the second half.

The Bearkats finished with 31 points off the bench as Rosenthal and Henry came off the bench, both of them logged more minutes than two starters.

Now, the Bearkats will hit the road for a two-game trip that starts with former Western Athletic Conference foe, New Mexico State on Thursday, the Kats will close the road trip with Saturday showdown against the University of Texas El Paso. Both games will be streamed on the ESPN+ Platform.