Huntsville - Led by James Thomas with 15 points and Darius Gatson with eight points and 13 rebounds, Sam Houston State defeated Southeastern Louisiana 54-45 in a Southland Conference men's basketball game Saturday afternoon.

The victory upped the Bearkats' record to 15-14 for the year while the Lions dropped to 10-17. Both teams own 8-8 league marks.

The Bearkats never trailed in the game, jumping out to a 13-4 lead after a three-pointer by Darius Gatson seven minutes into the contest. The Lions cut the margin to five twice, but the Kats went into the locker room at intermission with a 27-15 lead.

Sam Houston led by as many as 17 in the second half, but the Lions cut the margin to six points, 45-39, on a three-pointer by Brandon Fortenberry with 4:21 to play.

The Bearkats went 6-of-6 from the foul line in the final three minutes to hold off the Southeastern Louisiana rally.

"We came out with a lot of intensity," Sam Houston head coach Jason Hooten said. "We had that sense of urgency we should have had in a couple of the prevous games. James Thomas has been our most consistent scorer inside. He's just 6' 5" but size doesn't matter when you've got a lot of heart. As our only senior, Darius had a great performance in his final game here at Johnson Coliseum."

Brandon Fortenberry led the Lions with 22 points. Marquel McKinney and Paul Baxter each added eight points to the Bearkats' efforts.