LAKE CHARLES, La. – The Sam Houston State Bearkats overcame a slow start to run away with a 67-57, win over McNeese on Tuesday night at the Lake Charles Civic Center.
Josh Delaney tied his career high by connecting on five 3-point buckets and Josh Boutte put together his first double-double as a Bearkat with 12 points and 12 rebounds to help the Kats (13-10, 7-3 SLC) stay within striking distance of the top of the pack in the Southland Conference.
The win was also the 150th in the career for head coach Jason Hooten, making him the third Bearkat coach in program history to reach that mark at the school.
Sam Houston trailed by 10 midway through the opening half, but would erase the deficit prior to halftime and lead by as much as 19 in the second half for its third straight win over the Cowboys (8-12, 4-5 SLC) in the last two seasons.
Delaney would finish with a team-high 15 points and Jamal Williams set a new career high with 13 rebounds to go with eight points on a night that saw the Bearkats dominate the glass, 51-50. Abrian Edwards would also put up seven points and seven rebounds while tying his season high with five assists.
For McNeese, Kalob Ledoux led the way with a game-high 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting.
The Bearkats will return home on Saturday for their second look at Abilene Christian. Sam Houston will be looking to avenge a 75-72 loss to the Wildcats in Abilene to open up league play on December 30. The game is set to tip off at 6:15 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 hit just three of its first 12 shots of the game as the Cowboys raced out to a 10-point lead behind the sharpshooping of Ledoux. The sophomore guard for McNeese pumped in 13 points in the half and had 11 points in a 13-2 run that pushed the Cowboy lead to 19-9 midway through the half.
But then the Bearkats went to work, scoring six straight points of their own, led by four points from Boutte that included a monster one-handed dunk on a rebound putback that trimmed the lead to four.
After a 5-point trip down the floor for the Cowboys, Sam Houston would go on a 15-2 run of their own, tying it up on the first of four 3-point buckets from Josh Delaney in the half. He would provide each of the last 12 points of the half for the Kats on triples, banking in his fourth just before the halftime buzzer to send the Kats into the locker room up 33-28.
That late barrage helped the Kats overcome what had been a poor shooting half that was aided by a 26-18 edge on the glass, including 11 offensive boards. They would also force nine Cowboy turnovers in the period.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE SECOND HALF
It took less than five minutes for the Bearkats to push their lead to double digits. A 9-0 run early in the half included four points from Boutte and was capped by Delaney’s fifth 3-pointer of the night, upping the advantage to 48-33 at the 14:13 mark of the half.
The lead still stood at 11 with 10 minutes to go after scores from Ledoux and Stephen Ugochukwu, but Sam Houston would answer once again with an 8-0 spurt that included three points from Edwards as the lead peaked at 58-39 with only 6:31 to go.
From there the Cowboys would chip away behind 17 second-half points from Ledoux and Jarren Greenwood, but never truly threatened as they would not get any closer than eight in the game’s final minute.
Marcus Harris led the Kats in the second half with seven points while Boutte had half of both his rebound and point totals in the second 20 minutes. Sam Houston hit less than 40 percent from the field, but held McNeese to just 10-for-33 from the field in the half, including 1-for-9 from 3-point range.