THIBODAUX, La. – The Sam Houston State Bearkats erased a double-digit deficit in the second half, but a last-second shot by Marcus Harris missed the mark as the Nicholls Colonels held onto first place in the Southland Conference with a 73-72 heartbreaker on Valentine’s Day at Stopher Gym.
Harris finished with a game-high 23 points, but the Bearkats (16-11, 10-4 SLC) missed a pair of key free throws in the game’s final minute of what was a back-and-forth contest for the final 10 minutes.
Christopher Galbreath Jr. put in 16 points and eight boards, including a 3-point bucket late in the game that tied drew the Kats even for the first time since the game’s opening minutes. John Dewey III would add 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, but missed the back end of a 2-shot foul with less than 10 seconds that kept the Kats down a point.
Nicholls’ (17-9, 11-2 SLC) Jahvaughn Powell would miss the front end of a 1-and-1 on the other end and the Kats got a solid look from Harris that drew only the side of the rim as time expired.
The win keeps Nicholls in sole possession of first place in the league while the Bearkats fell to a tie for third, 1.5 games back of first place.
Sam Houston will head to Houston Baptist on Saturday to take on the Huskies at Sharp Gym. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST HALF
Sam Houston hit 10 foul shots and 42 percent from the floor, but was hampered by 14 first-half turnovers as the Colonels took a 41-34 lead into the half.
Harris had 10 points and Boutte eight, but Nicholls built a nine-point lead less than seven minutes in and eventually led by as much as 11.
Nicholls still led by as much as 10 with 2:27 to go after four straight foul shots from Lafayette Rutledge, but a 3-point play by Jamal Williams and a pair of foul shots cut the lead down to as much as six before the Colonels eventually took its seven-point lead to the locker room.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE SECOND HALF
After Nicholls scored the first bucket the Bearkats used a three from Dewey and a field goal from Galbreath to spark a 7-0 run that quickly cut the Colonels lead down to 43-41. But from there the tide turned as the Colonels went on a 12-0 run in just over three minutes to push their lead back to 55-41.
Harris and the Kats would answer back as the junior guard pumped in half of the Bearkat points in 14-3 Bearkat run that closed the gap back to 58-55 midway through the period.
The lead would swell back to six, but Sam would score eight of the game’s next 10 points, including a straightaway three from Galbreath that tied it up at 69-69 with 2:54 to go. The teams would then trade two-point trips before a late jumper from Powell gave the Colonels their final lead at 73-71.
Jamal Williams had a chance with under 40 seconds to go to tie it up, but could not convert at the line. One possession later Dewey had the same opportunity, but after swishing the first of two, the second-leading free throw shooter in the SLC could not convert the second. Nicholls would then miss the front end of their own trip to the line, giving Sam one last chance. Harris would get a decent look driving to his left, but was just off as the final buzzer sounded.