This past week, the Sam Houston men’s basketball team faced two tough tests at home. On Saturday night, the Bearkats picked up their first conference victory of the season by beating Northwestern State 80-73. The Bearkats improved to 10-5 overall and 1-2 in conference, while the Demons fell to 10-6 and 3-1.
The Kats were led by Chris Jordan who had 17 points and Jejuan Plair who had 15. The two players combined to make 17 of 20 from the free throw line. Overall, the Kats shot 23-36 from the charity stripe.
Colby Bargeman led the Demons with 19 points, including 3 of 5 from three-point land.
Northwestern trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half but managed to cut the deficit to 77-73 with 51 second left in the game.
Even with the big game put up by Jordan and Plair, it was Shamir McDaniel who would lead the Bearkats to victory with a career-high 18 points, including an incredible five for six from three-point range.
“I wanted to come out and be aggressive,” said McDaniel. “If I had an open shot, I wanted to make it and give our team a chance to win.”
The Bearkats now hit a three-game road trip and won’t return to Johnson Coliseum until January 28 when they host the University of Texas-Arlington.
“That was a good win for our guys tonight,” said Marlin. “We beat a good basketball team. [Northwestern State] was picked to finish first in the conference. We really needed this. Every game is going to be a grind in this conference.”
Last Thursday, the McNeese State Cowboys (8-6, 3-0) made the trip to Huntsville to battle with the Bearkats.
The game was close throughout and came down to the final six seconds.
But, despite putting up three three-pointers in the final stand, the Bearkats could not sink the shot to tie. The Cowboys won 60-57.
“It was a tough loss just because we are now 0-2 and we have to play catch up,” said freshman Reggie Rawlins. “We should have won this game just like we should have won the Nicholls game.”
Rawlins finished the game with 11 points including a three pointer that kept the Bearkats within striking distance.
Unfortunately for the Bearkats, the struggles from the line continued as they went 13 for 25 from the stripe. Shamir McDaniel had a chance to tie the game with 15 seconds left, but missed the second of two free throw attempts.
“We battled right to the end,” said SHSU coach Bob Marlin. “Until we take care of [free throw shooting] we aren’t going to be able to win.”
Sam Houston’s next game will be Thursday, January 19 when the team travels to San Antonio to take on Texas-San Antonio (6-8, 1-2).
The Bearkats currently stand in third place in the Southland Conference standings. Northwestern State, Lamar, McNeese State and Nicholls State are in a four-way tie for first place. All four teams hold a 3-1 conference record.