HUNTSVILLE – RJ Smith scored a career-high 16 points off the bench, going 4-for-4 from the 3-point line to help lead the Sam Houston State Bearkats to a 78-64 win over Northwestern State at Prather Coliseum.
Sam Houston (11-8, 6-0 SLC) knocked down a season-high 14 3-point baskets, the most the Bearkats have hit as a team since nailing 15 against Schreiner a year ago.
A hot start from Bubba Furlong off the bench after early foul trouble for Kai Mitchell helped lead the Bearkats to an early lead that they maintained for the rest of the night. The sophomore scored seven of the first 10 SHSU points of the night and was one of nine players to crack the scoring column in the game for the Kats.
Marcus Harris added four 3-pointers to account for all 12 of his points, while Cameron Delaney had 15 points and six rebounds. Zach Nutall led the Kats with seven rebounds, and Josh Delaney also had 10 points and four assists.
The Bearkats led Northwestern State (7-12, 2-4 SLC) for the majority of the game, with their largest lead of 19 coming late in the second half with the game already in tow.
Preseason all-SLC selection Ishmael Lane finished the game 19 points and 19 of NSU’s 37 rebounds on the night.
While the Kats were red hot from distance, hitting 14 of their 29 tries from 3-point range, the Demons were equally as cold. NSU missed its first 19 tries from beyond the arc, not making a triple until midway through the second half and finished with just three makes on 28 tries.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Bearkats traded off the lead with the Demons early in the first half. Furlong subbed in for Mitchell and scored the first five points to give the Kats a spark, but the Demons were able to answer keeping the game tied 10-10 early in the first half.
Nutall and Smith’s 3-pointers, combined with a layup from Smith and a free throw from
Albert Almanza opened the second period with a quick 3-pointer on an assist from Josh Delaney. After early foul trouble causing Mitchell to sit most of the first half, he made up for it by contributing eight points and five rebounds in the second half.
In all, nine of the Bearkats’ 13 field goals in the second half came from beyond the arc and helped SHSU keep at least a 10-point cushion at all times in the period. The lead grew to as much as 19 after an 8-2 run that was capped by Cameron Delaney’s third triple of the night.
The Kats will return to Johnson Coliseum on Saturday to face Lamar. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. from Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum and will be aired on ESPN3.