HUNTSVILLE – It took all the Sam Houston State Bearkats had to hold off the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders on Wednesday night, but the Kats got a key stop on the game’s final possession to walk away with a 66-64 win at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
Sam Houston (15-10, 9-3 SLC) put four players in double figures on the game and needed every bit of it to overcome a stellar game from the Islanders’ (8-13, 5-6 SLC) Joseph Kilgore, who poured in a game-high 28 points. The win snapped a four-game win streak for the Islanders and kept the Kats within striking distance of first place in the league, just a half game back of first-place Nicholls.
The Kats led by as much as 13 in the opening half and by three at the break, but the second half was back and forth all the way. Still, in the end it was Marcus Harris who nailed a big jump shot to put Sam Houston up 65-62 with less than 40 seconds to play and then came up with a big defensive stop on Kilgore with the Kats up just a point on AMCC’s final attempt in the waning seconds.
Harris would finish with 14 points on the night, canning a pair of Sam’s 12 3-point baskets in the game. Christopher Galbreath Jr. led all Bearkats on the night with 16 points and 11 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the year and both Josh Delaney and John Dewey III pumped in 12 each on a quartet of 3-pointers themselves.
In all the Kats would have 18 assists on 22 made baskets against the Islander defense and pulled in 14 offensive boards, despite Islander freshman Sean Rhea pulling in 16 of his own for AMCC.
Sam Houston will be out for revenge on Saturday when it plays host to Lamar in a 6:15 p.m. tipoff at Johnson Coliseum. The game will be aired live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app. Lamar owns a comeback win in overtime over the Kats in the teams’ first meeting this season in Beaumont.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST HALF
The Kats got off to a quick start, fueled by a defense that did not allow the Islanders on the board for nearly four minutes to open the game. Sam Houston led 9-3 in the opening minutes on four points from Galbreath and a 3-pointer from Dewey, but AMCC would storm back with seven straight to cut the deficit to a point nearly six minutes in.
From there the Kats would score 10 straight points of their own, capping the run with the first of two 3-point baskets in the game by Cameron Delaney and eventually led 28-15 with 6:09 to go on a layup from Galbreath.
But then Kilgore would get going, scoring five straight points and hitting a jumper before the halftime buzzer on his way to 14 first-half points, cutting the Sam lead to just 34-31 at the break.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN THE SECOND HALF
It took AMCC less than six minutes of the second half to finally draw even with the Kats, doing so on a 3-point basket from Myles Smith before finally taking a 42-40 lead with 13:49 to go on a jumper from Kilgore.
Another basket from Kilgore pushed it the lead to four, but Dewey answered with a 3-pointer from the right wing to spark a 9-2 run that included triples from both Harris and Cameron Delaney to surge Sam back in front 49-46.
Back-to-back threes from Harris and Josh Delaney eventually pushed the advantage back to seven at 55-48 with less than eight minutes to play, but Kilgore and the Islanders were not done.
A 10-1 Islander run followed with another three from Smith giving the Islanders the lead once again at 58-56 with just 4:25 to go. Four freebies from Galbreath would get the Kats back in front before Kilgore drained a three of his own with just 1:51 to go from straight away to give the Islanders a 62-60 advantage.
But the Kats would answer as Harris found Dewey in the right corner for the go-ahead triple and then after a stop, Harris would drain a long 2-point basket of his own over an Islander defender to push the Bearkat lead to 65-62 with just 37 seconds to go.
A short jumper from Kareem South cut the lead to just one and then full-court pressure forced the 13th Bearkat turnover of the game, giving the Islanders the ball under their own basket with less than 18 seconds to play.
The ball found its way into the hands of Kilgore, but Harris was there to defend a long jumper that fell short in what was the Islanders’ final attempt of the game.