HUNTSVILLE – The Sam Houston State Bearkats erased a 14-point deficit in the second half to get a 82-76 win over Central Arkansas in its home Southland Conference opener on Wednesday night at Johnson Coliseum.
The Kats (7-8, 1-1 SLC) were red hot in the second half, hitting four of nine tries from 3-point range to finish; however, the Bears (7-9, 1-2 SLC) looked to be in great shape early in the period, scoring the first nine points of the second frame and leading by as much as 14 before the Kats stormed back.
Marcus Harris and Jamal Williams led four Kats in double figures, but it was Harris' shooting in the second half that got Sam Houston back in it as the junior canned four triples in less than four and a half minutes with the final one giving Sam Houston its first and final lead of the night.
That was part of a 39-14 edge in bench scoring for the Kats with Williams added five assists to his 15 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes on the floor. Josh Delaney gave the Kats nine late points off the bench, while Abrian Edwards also had eight points. Christopher Galbreath Jr. gave the Kats 11 points and 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the year.
The Bearkats will go on a two game road conference play when it faces UIW on Saturday, January 6. Tipoff is set for 3:00 p.m. at the McDermott Convocation Center in San Antonio.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST HALF
Sam Houston led by as much as three early in the half behind eight points from Edwards and seven from Galbreath, but UCA's Jordan Howard led the whole field with 13 of his game-high 25 points keeping the Kats on their heels.
Great defense helped the Kats comeback from the largest lead of 10 points as they held the Bears to 14-35 from the field.
Being down 21-11, Kats got to the line back to back times after being on a scoring drought to cut the lead to six, Sam Houston went 7-13 from the line. Ending the half, the Kats went on a 5-0 run to help cut the UCA lead to three going into half.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE SECOND HALF
The Bears opened the second half on a 9-0 run, holding the Bearkats to nothing for the first 4:58 to establish a double-digit lead. Then came Harris who netted the first of four key threes to end the run and spark an 11-1 run for the Bearkats. Howard answered with a pair of free throws before Harris nailed threes on consecutive possessions, the second giving Sam Houston a 53-51 lead with just under 12 minutes to play.
From there the Kats got going, and continued to hold the lead, pushing it to as much as eight with under four minutes to play after five straight points from Delaney. UCA would get as close as three with 71 seconds to play on a three from Matthew Mondesir, but Williams was the go-to hand late, converting three buckets in the final 3:13 while the Kats five of six foul shots in the final 64 minutes to ice the game.