HUNTSVILLE- Sam Houston saw an 11-point halftime lead nearly evaporate before holding off Abilene Christian, 84-77, on Saturday night at Johnson Coliseum.
Marcus Harris set a new season high by hitting 14-for-15 from the free throw line and nailing a pair of triple to finish with 28 points to lead all scorers. Christopher Galbreath Jr. put together 21 points and three boards while Jamal Williams fired off 16 points and four boards off the bench. With the win the Kats (14-10, 8-3 SLC) stayed within striking distance of the top of the pack in the Southland Conference in a tie for third place. It also snapped a three-game losing streak to the Wildcats (14-10, 6-5 SLC) over the past two seasons.
Sam Houston trailed by six midway through the opening half, but would erase the deficit prior to halftime and lead by as much as 12 in the second half. They would connect on 26-for-32 at the foul line and assisted on 17 of its 26 field goals, negating a night that saw ACU win the war on the glass, 33-26.
ACU had five players in the double digits led by Tevin Foster with 17 points, while Jaylen Franklin and Jalone Friday added 15 each.
The Bearkats will continue their homestand on Wednesday for their second look at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Sam Houston already owns a 82-50 victory against the Islanders in Corpus Christi on January 10. The game is set to tip off at 6:30 p.m. at Johnson Coliseum and will be streamed live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST HALF
Sam Houston found itself down three five minutes into the game mainly due to an early 10-1 ACU edge on the glass to start the game with Lewis picking up five rebounds during that time.
Galbreath took control of the Bearkat offense as he hit for 10 points in the half. Midway through the first half the Kats started firing from the 3-point range as Josh Delaney hit a three off a screen which started a 7-0 run. Sam Houston would pull out to a 24-19 lead with six minutes left in the half.
The bench continued its contribution as they helped surge a 10-point lead in the first half, led by Williams had 13 points in the period. The Bearkat support team outscored ACU’s 21-5 in the half, which saw six different players get on the board.
The final dagger of its late run in the half came from Cameron Delaney with a buzzer beater triple from the left wing to send the team into the locker room carrying a 43-32 lead, which was the largest of the game. Delaney would be big off the bench, giving the Kats nine points and seven boards in 20 minutes of work.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE SECOND HALF
ACU came shooting out of the locker room as they swished three 3-pointers to cut the lead to six led by Payten Ricks, but Galbreath answered back matching a 3-pointer and followed up by an up and under to add to his 21 points in the game.
The lead stood at eight with 10 minutes to go after scores from Friday and Foster, Abilene Christian would continue with an 6-0 spurt that included back-to-back 3-pointers from Foster as the cut to 62-61 with only 6:35 to go.
From there the Bearkats would continue to trade as the lead as Galbreath continued to produce points, firing back-to-back jumpers in the final two minutes on his way to going eight for 15 and four for five from the free throw line.
With a little over a minute left the Kats hold a seven-point lead to finish the game strong with the help from Harris who would go 14 for 15 from the pin stripe foul line. Breaking his career high with 28 points and 14 free throws, respectively.