Sam Houston women’s basketball had a rocky first season in the WAC. However, after an end-of-season resurgence, including a win over the reigning champion CBU Lancers and a thrilling 3-point victory over WAC runner-ups Grand Canyon, the Bearkats landed themselves at an unexpectedly high 5th place in the conference. Unfortunately, their underdog success story ended there as they lost to CBU in the 2nd round of the WAC Tournament.
This off-season, the Bearkats lost their top three scorers in Faith Cook, Courtney Cleveland, and Damaya Telemaque. However, they were able to keep Madelyn Batista and other core players. They also recruited some impressive talent such as Chyna Allen. Sam Houston is expected to be a tough team to beat.
Chyna Allen 5’7” Grad Guard Transfer from Nicholls St.
Chyna Allen was a huge off-season pick-up for Coach Ravon Justice and her staff. Last season at Nicholls State, Allen averaged 14 points per game. Her scoring placed her fourth in the Southland Conference and second for the Colonels. She also led her squad in assists with 53 throughout the season and was fifth in rebounds with 3.7 per contest. She was selected for the All-Southland Conference 2nd Team for her excellent play on a team that had very little success otherwise.
Allen is no stranger to winning titles. Playing varsity all four years of high school, she helped the Harrison Central High Red Rebels make four straight state championship appearances. She also earned multiple state honors after averaging 17 points, 5 steals, and 4 assists per game her senior season. She’s also seen success at the collegiate level. In her two seasons at Jones College, she and her squad went 52-7 and won back-to-back MACJC south division titles and NJCAA Region 23 championships.
Playing in a more successful system once again is going to benefit Allen greatly. Her assist numbers are expected to skyrocket now that she is surrounded by better talent. She is also an excellent defender. Head coach Ravon Justice told us Allen’s defense impressed her most when recruiting her.
Coming off of a season with already impressive scoring and defensive numbers, it will be extremely interesting to see how her play translates in the Bearkats’ second and final season in the WAC.
Madelyn Batista 6’2” Senior Forward from Orlando, FL
Following an almost unbelievable improvement in play from her freshman to sophomore season, last year as a junior, Batista continued to shine for Sam Houston. The 6’2” forward averaged 10.7 points per game. It’s the most in her career thus far. Batista also led the Bearkats in rebounds and steals, averaging 8.4 boards and 1.8 steals. Her rebounding numbers also placed her third in the WAC. Her impressive performance and presence on the defensive end landed her on the All-WAC Defensive Team.
Batista is expected to have a huge role in the offense this season due to the departure of the Bearkats’ top three scorers. Being one of the only seniors on the roster, she’s also expected to have much more of a leadership role. A fantastic all-around player, Batista could lead this Sam Houston squad to relatively unexpected regular and post-season success.