Career high three-pointers from Branch helps SFA stifle Sam Houston, 83-65

Career high three-pointers from Branch helps SFA stifle Sam Houston, 83-65

SFA Athletics

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (Press Release)- Stephen F. Austin faced off against long-time rival Sam Houston this Thursday evening at the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. The Ladyjacks had a tough first half posting only 12-40 shots from the field (30.0%), but found their stride completing an 83-63 win over the Bearkats. The ball began to fall for SFA in the second half allowing SFA to pullout 30-71 (42.3%) from the field and going 12-16 (75%) at the charity stripe. The Ladyjacks posted 32 points from within the paint and 15 points off second chances. Two Ladyjacks collected 20 points on the night, senior Brentney Branch and senior Taylor Ross. Branch had a career night putting up seven three-pointers for 25 total points in the game. Redshirt junior Stevi Parker finished with her eighth career and fifth season double-double posting 10 points and 14 rebounds. Ross was one assist short of a double-double. She had 21 points and nine assists. Freshman Lovisa Brunnberg also posted six points, tying her career high triples with two from beyond the arc.

Branch was the first Ladyjack to put one through the net at the 8:32 mark to take the SFA lead, 3-2. Sam Houston then went 1-1 at the line off a Ross foul, and took the lead at the 7:03 mark with a jumper off the block. SFA would tie the game back up at five apiece, but could not hold on to the score as the Bearkats went on a 14-7 streak to possess the lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Ladyjacks started things with back-to-back buckets from senior Adrienne Lewis, and then a triple from junior Taylor Jackson put the Ladyjacks at only a one point deficit at the 6:39 mark. The SFA defense began to show their spine as they held the Bearkats scoreless for two minutes and 51 seconds until Sam Houston put two more buckets on the board. Branch came wide awake putting in two triples and a lay-up to tie the game at 30 points at the 2:43 mark. The Bearkats went on another five point unanswered run until Parker drew the foul and put away her two free-throws to close the gap to a three point game, 35-32, going in to the locker room.

After the intermission, a steal from Ross and the lay-up finish started the third quarter. Lewis got a block the next play, and Ross picked it up for another lay-up. SFA took the one point lead, 36-35, at the 9:03 mark. Sam Houston was held scoreless for two minutes until they breached a trap and got a wide-open jumper at the block. Branch and Ross both put in triples from downtown to extend SFA into its biggest lead so far of the game 47-39 at the 4:41 mark. An And-One situation for freshman Riley Harvey, turned into a seven point run by Harvey alone forcing the Bearkats to call a timeout. Sam Houston lead the final run of the third quarter, but SFA stretched the lead 58-47 at the end of the third.

The Ladyjacks came out on fire in the fourth going on an outstanding 15-7 run, highlighted by floater from Branch and back-to-back triples from Brunnberg. The SFA defense held the Bearkats silent for three minutes and 55 seconds to help preserved the SFA 75-54 lead at the final media timeout. Sam Houston put in two more three-pointers in the final two minutes, but SFA pulled this one away 83-65.

The Ladyjacks will continue the rivalry week on the road in Natchitoches, La. SFA will match up against 9-11 Northwestern State on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 1:00 p.m., and will be live streamed on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app as a special Southland Conference production.