BEAUMONT – John Dewey III’s bucket with just 3.7 seconds remaining forced overtime, but the Lamar Cardinals were able to outlast the Sam Houston State Bearkats in the extra period, defeating the Kats for the first time in Beaumont since 2008 with an 80-76 overtime win on Thursday night at the Montagne Center.
The Kats (17-8, 8-4 SLC) were able to even things up in the final minutes of regulation of a game that saw 16 ties and 20 lead changes, but Lamar (15-9, 7-4 SLC) hit three of four shots in extra time, including a pair threes and six points from point guard Joey Frenchwood to pick up their 11th win of the season on their home court.
The loss drops the Bearkats a game back of league-leading New Orleans for the top spot in the league standings after the Privateers defeated McNeese earlier in the evening.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Kats opened up with makes on their first three buckets to race out to a 7-0 lead, but the Cardinals responded with 12 straight points of their own, taking their first lead on a layup by Colton Weisbrod just prior to the first media timeout.
But the Kats weathered the storm with a bucket from Dewey to snap a string of six straight misses from the floor, and built the lead back to 20-16 on a three from Albert Almanza with eight minutes left in the half.
Sam Houston pushed the lead to as much as six at 28-22 before the Cardinals mounted a late-half charge, scoring 11 of the game’s next 12 points before another three for Almanza just before the halftime buzzer cut the lead to 33-32 at the break.
The teams played to a near stalemate in the early minutes of the second half with Henderson carrying the offensive load with seven points in the first six minutes of the half, moving into 10th all-time in scoring at Sam Houston with a pair of free throws that put the Kats up 44-43.
The Kats added four more points to swell the lead to 54-48 before Owens quickly knotted it up for the eighth time in the half with threes from the right wing on consecutive possessions. Josh Nzeakor followed with three consecutive Lamar scores and put the Cardinals back in front 64-62 with less than four minutes on the clock.
But it was the last two minutes that made the game. Nzeakor tipped one in after Christopher Galbreath Jr. had given Sam Houston the lead with 1:25 to play, followed by a pair of foul shots from Owens that gave the Cardinals a 68-65 lead with just 38 seconds left.
The Kats were able to go to Aurimas Majauskas on their next possession to draw to within a point, and Frenchwood kept the door open by missing two out of three foul shots. That set things up for Dewey who drove the lane and laid the ball in to knot things at 69-69 and force overtime.
The teams traded buckets on each of their first two trips down the court in overtime before Frenchwood drained a straightaway three, his only triple of the night in five tries, to put Lamar up for good at 77-75 with 2:14 left in overtime. From there the Kats were not able to connect on good looks on their next two possessions before Nick Garth iced it at the foul line.
The rebounding edge was even at 37-37 for the game, but the Cardinals were able to take advantage of their second chances, turning their 14 offensive boards into a 24-6 advantage in second-chance points. Lamar was also able to can five triples in the final while the Kats were only able to connect on one long ball in the second period and overtime after making three in the opening period.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Four Bearkats finished the night in double figures with Galbreath and Henderson each leading the way with 12. Majauskas added 11 and seven rebounds, while Baxter had 11 of his own and six boards. Dewey put in nine with five assists.
The Bearkats will return home after two straight road games on Saturday when they take on UIW at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. Saturday’s game is set to tip off at 6:15 p.m. and can be watched live online on ESPN3.