The holiday season couldn’t have been much better for the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team. Despite losing a nail-biter to Northwestern State on Dec. 28 in Louisiana, the Bearkats won six of their seven games over the break, starting with a 43-point shellacking of the Houston Flyers.The most important wins came against conference opponents McNeese State, La. Monroe, UT-Arlington and Stephen F. Austin. The Bearkats beat McNeese in an overtime thriller and UT-Arlington at Johnson Coliseum and upended La. Monroe and Stephen F. Austin on the road.As we speak, Sam Houston State is in second place in the Southland Conference standings with a 4-1 record (8-4 overall).Head coach Bob Marlin said he’s pleased with how his team is performing as it starts its most important stretch of games.”We’ve won two road games in the league. We’re 4-1 (in the conference) and have only played two home games, so we feel good about where we are,” Marlin said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think we’re getting better, that’s the nice thing. We knew this team could get better.”If we keep progressing, then I think we’ve got a chance to do well and have a shot to finish at the top of the league,” the coach added. Meanwhile, Marlin’s troops are preparing for a matchup with UT-San Antonio on Saturday, the only league opponent that Sam Houston did not defeat at least once last year during their conference title run. The Roadrunners beat Sam Houston State 75-72 in Huntsville and 61-59 in San Antonio last year. Even though Marlin remembers the games against the Roadrunners last season, he refuses to dwell on the past and said he’ll treat this game like any other important conference game.”There’s no revenge. There will be guys (on the team) that will remember, but I don’t harp on that,” Marlin said about the game that will start at 7 p.m. in San Antonio. “This is a new season.”It will be a good game. I think it’s a good rivalry and they’ve had some success,” Marlin said. “They haven’t won the league the past five years and we have and they’ve won in the (Southland Conference) tournament and we haven’t. I think we match up with them well.”The Roadrunners enter Saturday’s game with a 3-2 conference record (4-8 overall)Below are summaries of the Bearkats’ holiday games. Dec. 14 Sam Houston State 105 Houston Flyers 62Coming back from the finals break, the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team kicked off the holiday season with a 43-point thumping of the Houston Flyers at an exhibition game at Johnson Coliseum.The Flyers, an AAU all-star team of former area college players, were blown away by the shooting of Bearkat junior guard Demitrice Sims, who hit five-of-nine three pointers on his way to a game-high 26 points. The Houston squad shot a dismal 3-of-15 from three-point range, while the Bearkats finished 9-of-21 from long range. Bearkat freshman center Eddy Fobbs added 12 points and was SHSU’s top rebounder with nine.
Dec. 18 Sam Houston State 96 McNeese State 92 (1 OT)Jeremy Burkhalter scored 27 points, including a lay-up with six seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime as the Bearkats defeated McNeese State by four points at Johnson Coliseum to open Southland Conference play.Demitrice Sims continued his steady play by scoring 21 points and recording a game-high 12 rebounds. His two free throws with a little over one minute left in overtime put the Bearkats up 91-90 and SHSU never trailed again.Brian Jordy came up big for the Bearkats at the forward spot by scoring 14 points and Senecca Wall added 13. The win extended Sam Houston State’s home court winning streak to 12 and marked the first time since 1998 the Bearkats have won their Southland Conference opener.The win improved Sam Houston State to 4-3 on the season. McNeese dropped to 2-5.
Dec. 23 Sam Houston State 72 New Orleans 65The home winning streak extended to 13 games as Senecca Wall scored 21 points, pulled down eight rebounds and recorded six assists to lead Sam Houston State to a seven-point victory over New Orleans in the final non-conference game of the 2000-01 season.The scrappy team from the Lousiana refused to quit despite being down to the Bearkats by as many as 15 points. New Orleans fought back to take a 61-60 lead with 3:49 to play. Vince Brown then hit two free throws for the Bearkats, and Eddy Barlow hit a three-pointer to put SHSU back in the lead to stay.Demitrice Sims hit four three-pointers on his way to 17 points and Barlow hit 2-of-4 from long range and finished with 14 points and five assists.
Dec. 28 Northwestern State 77 Sam Houston State 75Northwestern State led the whole game as they beat the Bearkats by two at their home court in Natchitoches, La.Senecca Wall scored 17 points and Demetrice Sims and Eddy Fobbs each added 14 points as the Bearkats came from 20 points behind in the first half to make things close in the end. The Demons had a great night shooting from long range, hitting 10-of-19 three-pointers. Both teams shot well as the Bearkats finished 46 percent shooting from the field and the Demons finished 44 percent. Poor free throw shooting doomed Sam Houston State down the strecth. The Bearkats missed eight of its 20 attempts in the second half.Eddy Barlow and Jeremy Burkhalter both added nine points to help the Sam Houston cause. The loss dropped the Bearkats to 1-1 in conference play and 5-4 overall.
Dec. 30 Sam Houston State 71 La. Monroe 69The Bearkats rebounded from their tough loss to Northwestern State by edging Monroe by two points in Monroe, La. to give SHSU it’s first Southland Conference road victory of the season.Jeremy Burkhalter scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Senecca Wall added 23 points and eight rebounds in the winning effort. Monroe led by two at halftime, but a stingy Bearkat defense created 18 Indian turnovers and held the Indians to only 35 percent shooting from the field. Wall aided the defensive performance with seven of the team’s 13 steals.Burkhalter and Wall stole the show as Sam Houston State’s third leading scorer was Eddy Fobbs and Brian Jordy, who both only finished with five points.The win improved the Bearkats to 2-1 in conference play.
Jan. 4 Sam Houston State 89 UT-Arlington 73The Bearkats opened the new year with a 16-point thumping of UT-Arlington at Johnson Coliseum.Senecca Wall scored 20 points, grabbed seven rebounds and made six assists as Sam Houston State extended their Johnson Coliseum home winning streak to 14 games. Sims continued his hot hand by hitting 6-of-10 three-point shots to finish with 18 points.The Bearkats led by 23, 47-24, with 19 minutes to play, but UT-Arlington rallied to cut the margin to seven, 55-48, with 13 minutes remaining. But the Mavs could come no closer as SHSU upped its conference mark to 3-1. Jeremy Burkhalter pitched in with 16 points and Eddy Fobbs added 15.
Jan. 6 Sam Houston State 62 Stephen F. Austin 56Despite only scoring 24 points in the first half, the Bearkats were able to beat conference foe Stephen F. Austin by six points on its home court in Nacogdoches.Senecca Wall scored 19 points and pulled down nine rebounds and Jason Stephenson came off the bench to spark a second half comeback with 10 points.The Lumberjacks ran a ball control offense much of the game and only scored 21 first half points. Eddy Fobbs finished with 12 points and Demitrice Sims added 10 3-of-6 shooting.The win improves the Bearkats to 4-1 in conference and 8-4 overall as they prepare to travel to play UT-San Antonio on Saturday.