SAN FRANCISCO - Sam Houston State could not find a way to get over the hump after falling behind early in a 90-81 loss to the University of San Francisco Saturday evening at War Memorial at the Sobrato Center.

The Bearkats (2-3) found a rhythm offensively in the second half after a poor shooting performance in the first. Sam Houston State shot 48.3 percent from the field and was 13 for 26 (50 percent) from 3-point range for the game despite shooting just 32.4 percent in the opening period.

Sophomore Zach Nutall was the game’s leading scorer with 23 points and hit two big 3s that helped the Bearkats trim what was once a 19-point Dons’ advantage down to two twice in the second half.

Nutall’s first clutch trey came with 5:20 left in the game. USF (6-0) had a fast-break dunk after the shot, but junior Jamaree Bouyea clanked it off the rim which led to a transition 3-pointer by junior Demarkus Lampley, who scored 13, to pull SHSU within 74-72.

The Dons responded with a 3 of their own, but Nutall drained his third trey of the game to make it 77-75.

USF went on a 6-0 run to pull away for good.

Junior Kai Mitchell chipped in 13 points for the Bearkats, while senior Dainan Swoope and junior RJ Smith finished with 12 and 8 points, respectively.

The Dons started to heat up midway through the first period to grab the early lead and had an answer each time the Bearkats made a shot.

San Francisco was up 31-16 with just under eight minutes to go in the half. Sam Houston State was able to cut the lead to seven at 39-32 on a layup by Lampley and a 3 by Swoope with 3:57 on the clock.

The Dons closed the half on a 10-0 run and scored out of the break to take their largest lead of the game at 51-32.

San Francisco shot 46.8 percent from the field and was 11 for 34 from behind the arc. The Dons also outshot Sam Houston State at the free-throw line, making 21 of 28 attempts compared to 10 of 13.