HOUSTON – The Sam Houston State Bearkats cut a 19-point second-half lead down to just four, but could not complete the comeback as Houston Baptist earned its fourth straight win with an 88-77 victory on Thursday night at Sharp Gym.
The Bearkats (18-9, 9-5 SLC) were plagued by a dozen first-half turnovers and a second half that saw HBU (12-12, 8-6 SLC) catch fire late in the period to withstand the late Bearkat run.
Four Kats finished in double figures and 10 made it into the scoring column, led by John Dewey III’s 14 points and five steals. But the Huskies had four players in double figures of their own and were led by Atif Russell’s 18 points, one short of his career high and just the third time in 12 games in which he scored more than six.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sam Houston started off aggressively on the offensive end, scoring each of its first four buckets at the rim before Paul Baxter canned a three from the right wing to give them a 12-8 lead at the second media timeout.
That aggressiveness carried over to the defensive end as the Bearkat defense held HBU to just 3-for-13 from the floor to open the game. The Kats pushed that lead up to 17-11 as part of a 10-3 run, getting five points from Cameron Delaney in that stretch.
HBU then turned up the pressure, forcing a two of Sam Houston’s 12 turnovers in the half that turned into scores and got to within two at 19-17 before Dakarai Henderson answered with his first score of the game.
But the Kats went more than three minutes without another field goal before Torry Butler’s first score put them up 25-22; however, Asa Cantwell canned a three on the other end and that sparked a 16-2 Husky run that spanned less than three minutes and upped the lead to as much as 11.
Baxter opened the second half with a score, but HBU would get five of its next 7 points at the foul line as part of an 11-1 spurt early in the half, eventually building the lead to 19 points at 61-42 with six straight points from three separate players.
The Kats had something left, though, as Jamal Williams opened up a 17-2 Bearkat run of their own with a three-point play before John Dewey III put in consecutive layups off of defensive pressure. Albert Almanza had a pair of threes in the run, with his second cutting the deficit to just four at 63-59.
But, again the Huskies answered with a run, scoring eight of the next 10 points and got the lead back to double digits on Lasher’s third three of the game. HBU continued to stay hot from distance, hitting four out of five tries in a span of five minutes and were able to keep the Kats at bay at the foul line the rest of the way.
HBU got going late in the first half, but it carried over into the second half. The Huskies canned better than half of their 29 shots from the field, including 5-for-10 from the arc and 11 of 14 foul shots. The Kats, meanwhile, hit just 3-for-11 from the arc and 11-for-17 at the charity stripe in the second period
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Dewey led the Kats with 14 points and a career-best five steals, and Jovante’ Spivey and Galbreath added 11. Baxter finished with 10 points and a team-best seven rebounds. Cameron Delaney added seven big points off the bench, as did Almanza with three triples.
Sam Houston now hits westbound Interstate 10 as it heads to San Antonio for a Saturday matinee at UIW. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. at the McDermott Convocation Center.