Goodbye Sam Houston Bearkats. We barely knew ye.
It seems so cliche. Yet, it is fitting since the Bearkats will be leaving the WAC after the 2022-23 season. Sam Houston leaves after two year stopover for Conference USA on July 1, 2023.
However, in Huntsville there is excitement as the Bearkats look to build upon a solid finish to last season.
The Bearkats got off to a rough 0-6 start to WAC play only to finish at 9-9. They then defeated Lamar in the second round of WAC Vegas before falling to California Baptist on day three.
Ravon Justice (5th year)
62-37 (adjusted for the 3-10 mark under Brittany Mason while on leave last season)
15-16 overall, 9-9 WAC
Lost to California Baptist in the quarterfinals of the WAC Tournament
Faith Cook – Graduated
Courtney Cleveland – Graduated
Demaya Telemaque – Graduated
LeAndra Echi – Graduated
Tierney Coleman 5-9, So., Transfer (Oral Roberts)
Adriana Djokivic 5-11, Fr,
Chyna Allen 5-7, Gr., Transfer (Nicholls State)
Mikayla Eddins 5-10, Fr, Transfer (Little Rock)
Bryana Block 5-6, Fr
Kenyal Perry, 6-6, So., Transfer (Texas A&M)
Mikayla Woods 5-6, R-So., G
Kaylee Jefferson 6-0, R-Jr., F
Madelyn Batista 6-2, Sr., F
Projected Starting Lineup:
1 – Chyna Allen
2 – Mikayla Woods
3 – Kaylee Jefferson
4 – Madelyn Batista
5 – Kenyal Perry
The Bearkats lost their top-3 scorers in Faith Cook, Courtney Cleveland, and Demaya Telemaque (40 or so points per game). Despite this, Sam Houston will still have the services of Kaylee Cleveland and Madelyn Batista for the coming year.
Mikayla Woods also missed all of last year with an injury. But she will also be back after averaging 15 points per game at UTSA in 2019-20. And hopefully for Bearkat fans, can help to push the Bearkats toward the top of the WAC.
Justice did a nice job in the portal in the offseason. Chyna Allen comes to Huntsville after leading Nicholls State in scoring. And then Justice got some depth with Texas A&M transfer Kenyal Perry. At 6-6, Perry gives the Bearkats some much-needed size.
When Justice returned to the sidelines, the Bearkats went on a run, winning seven of their next eight games. Sam Houston also posted a 7-1 conference mark in games decided by 10 points or less. In Huntsville the question is: how will the Bearkats fare in the WAC with Justice at the controls for a full season?
Ravon Justice teams like to play at a fast pace and score at a high rate. This starting lineup is definitely one that fits the mold of their head coach and at 6’6 Kenyal Perry will be a solid rim protector. For Bearkat fans the question is: can they make the gains necessary on offense and defense to be a factor in the race?
Areas of Improvement:
A season ago the Bearkats were 6th in the WAC in scoring at 63 points per game. Sam Houston was also tied for 10th in 3-point shooting percentage at 29 percent. The Bearkats took and made the fewest 3-pointers in the conference while shooting 38.4 percent from the field. These are definitely marks that need to improve for Sam Houston to compete in their final WAC season and going forward.
Defensively, the Bearkats were 9th in points per game allowed at 67.1. But, Sam Houston was second in defensive 3-point percentage allowed at 28.2 percent. In total defensive field goal percentage they ranked 12th, allowing teams to shoot 44.5 percent from the field. A large part of that problem is the fact that they were whistled for the most fouls in the WAC at 22.8 per contest which means teams were in the bonus every quarter against them.
On the Straight Outta WAC Podcast, Justice revealed part of the non-conference schedule she’ll test her team against announcing games against Texas State, TCU, Tulane, and Texas Tech.
With the announcement of these two games against the Big 12 that brings the total of WAC games against Power 6 conferences to five that we know. This includes CBU’s two against Arizona & USC along with a previously announced game between Arizona State & GCU at GCU Arena.