HUNTSVILLE – The positives were plentiful for Sam Houston State on Saturday night.
The Bearkats turned in a strong effort on the glass and ran away with a 91-51 season-opening victory against UT Tyler at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum highlighted by four players finishing in double figures.
Sam Houston used a 14-0 run over 6 ½ minutes midway through the first half to pull away after the Patriots knotted the game at 9-9 six minutes in. The Bearkats were aggressive to the basket and capitalized, sinking 21-of-26 from the charity stripe in the win.
The first-half spurt pushed Sam Houston’s lead to 15 points during a stretch that saw eight points from Cameron Delaney. Jamal Williams led all players in scoring with 15 while John Dewey III added 14 points, Delaney posted 12 alongside five assists and brother Cameron Delaney put home 10.
The Kats (1-0) out-rebounded the Patriots (0-1), 50-32 with Cameron Delaney and Chris Galbreath Jr. each bringing home eight. Sam Houston shot just over 46 percent while limiting UT Tyler to 30 percent including just 23 percent in the first half.
Sam Houston sunk 10 three-point field goals, including six in the second half, while receiving three from Albert Almanza. UT Tyler trimmed the Kats’ lead to 11 with 13:43 remaining but Sam Houston struck from behind the arc, putting together an 18-3 run over the next 4 ½ minutes.
The Kats forced 18 UT Tyler turnovers, led Abrian Edwards who added three steels. Sam Houston got 13 different players into the game, helped by 54 second-half points. With 57 seconds remaining, Almanza added the final steal, finding an open Josh Delaney, who turned to Justin Van Pelt for the slam.
Sam Houston closes its brief two-game homestand on Tuesday, welcoming Hardin Simmons for a 6:30 p.m. tip. The Kats will head to Idaho next Saturday before turning their attention towards the Great Alaska Shootout from Nov. 22-25.
Head coach Jason Hooten on the victory against UT Tyler…
“I was extremely pleased with our effort. I thought we played really hard. I thought we defended well. Early in the year, you always want your defense to be ahead of your offense. I thought we did some better things in the second half. We may have worn them down in the second half and were able to get some open looks. I thought the first half was a good indicator on what we need to improve on. The tricky part is matchups and lineups. We got in foul trouble early tonight so you go from playing big to playing a small lineup. Those are things we have to work through.”
Head coach Jason Hooten on playing 13 players in the opener… “There are guys sitting over there right now not playing as much who will have to be a help to us. These kind of games are good. That’s a really good team over there. I think they’re going to have a really good year. They are very talented and well coach. Getting an opportunity to play a lot of different guys and different lineups this time of year is really important.”
Head coach Jason Hooten on winning the battle of the boards…
“Early in the year we had two scrimmages and an exhibition. Maybe one of those three we outrebounded our opponents. That is something we had been stressing in practice. We’re working to get better. Our inside guys are young and learning the game on the move. We’ve got to help them to get them to a point where they need to be.”
Jamal Williams on the season-opening win…
“It really felt good. It’s always good to get a win. Against UTSA, in the exhibition, we felt like we didn’t play as well as we could have. We wanted to get that bad taste out of our mouth. We were able to defend and execute tonight. Basketball is a game of runs. They made a run at one point. We just have to keep our composure. We made our run. It was good to keep the momentum going.”