Worth the price of admission

The UT-Arlington Mavericks came into Johnson Coliseum with their mind set on upsetting the Bearkats in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament at Johnson Coliseum Tuesday night.It might have happened, too, if not for the heroics of one Sam Houston player — Senecca Wall.The senior guard from Fort Worth scored a career-high 45 points, grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, had five steals and five assists as the Bearkats beat the Mavericks 103-98 in double overtime in front of a rowdy home crowd.With the win, Sam Houston advances to the semifinals Friday at the CenturyTel Center in Bossier City, La. It’s opponent will be regular season conference champion McNeese State at 6 p.m.Wall, who came to Huntsville two years ago from McLennan Community College, stepped up when he had to. Fellow senior star Jeremy Burkhalter was not exactly having his best game scoring, finishing with nine points before fouling out with 16 seconds left in the first overtime period.”I was in the same situation in junior college,” Wall said after the game. “My freshmen year, we were real good, and my sophomore year I was supposed to be the quote-unquote ‘go-to guy.’ I just didn’t want to go out with a loss at home. I didn’t want to lose.”The Mavericks had an opportunity to win the game at the end of regulation, but Steven Barber’s three-pointer hit the rim and bounced away. Sam Houston dodged another bullet at the end of the first overtime, when Derrick Obasohan bricked a three-pointer from the corner, and Mack Callier’s tip-in rimmed out as time expired.”I actually thought Jabari (Johnson) was going to take it all the way,” Bob Marlin, Sam Houston head coach, said of the sequence that led to Obasohan’s miss. “Then he passes it out, and Obasohan gets a great look and Callier got a great tip.”I thought the tip was going. I’ve lost so many games on second shots. You always tell the guys that they need to rebound to win the game, and it’s not the first shot that gets you, it’s the second shot.”The Bearkats jumped out to a quick lead in the final overtime with three-pointers by Wall and Demetrice Sims to make it a 95-88 Sam Houston lead with a little under three minutes remaining. But Barber wouldn’t let the Bearkats get too comfortable, as he scored five straight points to cut the lead to just two.Wall answered back with two free throws, but Barber came back to hit a three-pointer to make it a one-point game. Wall, who finished 19-of-24 from the free-throw line in the game, hit two more from the charity stripe to make it a 99-96 Bearkat lead with 1:11 remaining.After a free throw by Sam Houston freshman Roderick Winters, Barber was fouled on a three-point shot and made two of his three attempts. It didn’t get any closer, however, as Winters and Eddy Barlow combined for three free throws the rest of the way to complete the scoring. Sims, who played with Wall at McLennan, gave his team a big boost by hitting 5-of-8 three-pointers on his way to 19 points.”I play off of adrenaline,” said Sims, who also finished with six rebounds. “The first three I hit the crowd roared, and it felt great. I played with the adrenaline the whole game. I tried to keep it in me. I saved a little bit when I went to the bench, so when I got back in there, I hit another three. I was just feeling it tonight.”Vince Brown, who has been quiet for much of the season as a post player for the Bearkats, gave his team, as well as the crowd, a reason to be excited. The junior transfer came in for an ineffective Eddy Fobbs and pushed around opponents in the paint to score eight points and pull down eight rebounds. Brown gave the crowd a boost with his vocal displays of joy following Bearkat fortunes.”If you have the crowd, you might as well use it,” Brown said. “I’m a role player, it’s my job to come in and provide a boost and energy and that’s what I’m going to do.”Barber finished the game as the Maverick’s leading scorer with 30 points. Barlow helped the Bearkat cause with 13, much of which came in the overtime periods.Sam Houston held a 36-31 advantage going into halftime.

Leave a Reply