BEAUMONT, TX – Ashton Mitchell scored a career high 36 points to lead Sam Houston State to 112-105 double overtime victory over Lamar to extend the Bearkats’ Southland Conference winning streak to four games Wednesday night.
Mitchell broke an SHSU record for most made free throws in a game, going 22-of-27 from the line. With the Bearkats down 99-98 with under 2:30 to go in the second overtime, Mitchell scored four unanswered points to put Sam Houston State up for good.
“Anytime in a game like that, I want the ball in my hands,” Mitchell said. “Unfortunately, I missed some shots late, but I was hitting my free throws and had some big ones in the second overtime. I just want the ball when we have a chance to win because they trust me.”
Sam Houston State (10-8) is now 4-1 in Southland Conference action after opening league play with a two-point loss at Stephen F. Austin. The Cardinals (11-8) are heading in the opposite direction, having lost four of their last five SLC games to drop to 2-4.
Junior Corey Allmond and senior DeLuis Ramirez, who had a team-high eight rebounds, chipped in 18 points apiece for the streaking Kats. Junior Preston Brown added 14 points and sophomore Lance Pevehouse finished with 13 points, including a key tip-in that put SHSU up 104-99 with 44 seconds left in the game. Senior Barkley Falkner scored 11 points to give the Kats six players in double figures.
“We are a really deep team and we have confidence in everybody,” said Ramirez, who was one of three Kats to foul out of the game. “Everybody knew that their time was going to come because we were getting in foul trouble. Everybody was ready and we had different people step up.”
The game wasn’t much of a defensive struggle in regulation. The Bearkats led by as many as 12 in the first half when Ramirez scored on a layup and later knocked down a free throw with just over two minutes before the break. SHSU shot 56 percent from the floor in the opening period to take a 48-39 lead at halftime.
Lamar made a surge in the second half, going on an 18-9 run midway through the period to take its first lead at 69-65 since early in the first half. The Cardinals’ leading scorer Kenny Dawkins, who wasn’t much of a factor, capped the run with a jumper. Dawkins finished with 10 points.
The Bearkats were up 87-84 after Pevehouse knocked down a pair of free throws with 26 seconds to go in the second half. But Brandon McThay, who scored a team-high 22 points, buried a 3 to tie with 11 clicks to go.
After allowing the Cardinals to shoot more than 50 percent in regulation, the Bearkats clamped down in both overtime periods. Sam Houston State held Lamar to 4-of-14, or 29 percent, shooting while hitting 50 percent from the floor.
The Kats also had another solid night at the line. Sam Houston shot 84 percent, hitting 46-of-55 attempts.
“The defense was a little bit better in overtime,” Bearkats head coach Bob Marlin said. “We finally had a chance to run some time off the clock and Ashton hit some free throws for us. But they have a nice team with some good players.
“I’m extremely proud of our group. They played hard and hung tough. We told them the game was there for the taking in that second overtime and they grabbed it.”
Sam Houston State will host Southland Conference West Division leader Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 2 p.m. at Johnson Coliseum. The Islanders come into the contest 5-0 in league action. The tilt will be televised regionally on the Southland Conference TV network.