HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston State escaped a late New Orleans push and got 16 points from John Dewey III to pick up a key 57-54 win on Wednesday night at Johnson Coliseum.
The Kats (18-11, 12-4 SLC) entered the night in a tie for fourth place with the Privateers (14-13, 11-5 SLC), but moved into prime position to clinch at least one bye in next month's Southland Conference Tournament with the win on Wednesday night.
Dewey led the Bearkats with 16 points on the night after scoring the Kats first seven of nine points. Sam Houston would go on to lead at most by 12 in the second half but UNO would use a late three-point play by Troy Green to spark a 7-0 run that drew them to within three with less than a minute to play. Ultimately, UNO had one last look at tying the game but Tyren Harrison's 3-point try was off the mark as the buzzer sounded.
Josh Boutte was the only other Kat in double digits with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Christoppher Galbreath Jr. added nine points - all came in the second half - to help jump start the Kats who led by just a pair at the half.
New Orleans was led by Makur Puou who had a double-double scoring 20 points off of 6-12 shooting and had 10 boards. Diontae Champion added nine points and nine rebounds for the Privateers to go along with Tyren Harrison six points and four boards.
The Kats will have the weekend off before reutrning to action for a key final week of the regular season. They'll kick it off on Wednesday night at Central Arkansas before returning home on Saturday for the season finale vs Stephen F. Austin.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST HALF
The first half saw both teams struggle to find an identity, but a late shot from Marcus Harris was able to send the Kats into the locker room with a 28-26 lead.
Sam Houston shot just 42 percent in the opening half and got 10 points from Dewey, but that was matched by 10 from Puou on the UNO side. Dewey would score seven of Sam’s first nine points, helping the Kats to a five-point lead early on.
But that would be the biggest advantage either team would enjoy in the first half with 10 lead changes following that early Sam lead. UNO would lead with as little as 3:31 left on the clock after a jumper went down for Diontae Champion, but Jamal Williams would answer with a jumper and a dunk in the final few minutes before Harris answered a 3-ball by Mattew Jiles with one of his own, off the glass, on Sam’s final possession to give him five points at the break and Sam a narrow two-point edge into the locker room.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE SECOND HALF
Sam Houston came out of the break with a 9-2 run that gave the Kats a nine-point lead four minutes into the second half. They would hold on to the lead with the help from Galbreath, who returned to the floor after early foul trouble, accounting for all of his points in the opening 10 minutes of the period.
The Kats would lead the rest of the half, getting up to 12 points with seven minutes left in the game, getting seven key points from Boutte in that stretch to help build the advantage.
But UNO would use a 7-0 run to cut the lead down to three points with five seconds left in the game. Harrison had an opportunity to tie the game up but just bounced off the rim as time expired giving the Kats the win after a late rally by the Privateers.