HUNTSVILLE – A red-hot start and a defensive clinic pushed Sam Houston State to a 72-50 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Wednesday night at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum, keeping the Bearkats on top of the early standings in the Southland Conference.
Zach Nutall led four Bearkats (9-8, 4-0 SLC) in double figures with 15 points in just 19 minutes off the bench on a night that saw the Kats hold A&M-Corpus Christi (7-10, 2-2 SLC) to just 33.9 percent shooting for the game, and just 26.7 percent in the second half.
Sam Houston drained 11 3-point baskets, including 7-for-10 to open the game and finished with 20 assists on 26 made baskets for the game.
Cameron Delaney just missed out on a double-double, draining a pair of threes and finishing with nine points and a career-best 11 rebounds, three of which were on the offensive end.
It was a night that saw the Bearkats lead the entire way, building up its lead to as much as 22 late in the second half against an Islanders squad that entered allowing less than 65 points per game for the year.
Tre Gray was the lone AMCC player in double figures, finishing with 13 points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Kats opened up hot, canning seven of their first 10 3-point baskets in the opening half, but early on the Islanders were able to match them with four of their own. Nutall gave the Kats a spark midway through the first half, backing up Josh Delaney’s second 3-pointer with one of his own as part of a quick 8-0 spurt in just 1:12 that got the Kats ahead 20-11.
Nutall would go on to make each of his first three shots of the game and had 11 points at the break, pushing the lead up to 33-20 with 7:35 to go with another triple. That was part of an 11-2 run that got the lead up to 37-22 before a layup from Albert Almanza and a dunk by Mitchell pushed the lead to its first-half peak of 17 points just before the halftime buzzer with SHSU eventually going into the locker room up 41-26 at the break.
AMCC looked as though they might make a run at the Kats early in the second half, scoring on each of their first two possessions to get the lead to 41-30, but it would get no closer despite the Kats not making their first field goal of the half until a 3-pointer from Cameron Delaney went down at the 15:17 mark.
From there the Kats would slow it down and made the most of their chances, hitting 9-for-10 at the foul line after neither team attempted a free throw in the opening half. The Bearkat lead did get down to as little as 14 on a handful of occasions, but eventually put the game away on back-to-back triples from each Delaney in the final two minutes.
The Bearkats will next make the short road trip to Houston on Saturday to take on the Houston Baptist Huskies. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Sharp Gym.