Kats fall to 2-2 with OT loss at Lamar

After splitting their first two home conference games, it was only fitting that when the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team took to the road, they split their next two games also. The Bearkats (14-3, 2-2 SLC) began their road trip Thursday with a 64-49 victory over McNeese State (7-8, 1-2 SLC) in Lake Charles.The Bearkats only scored 20 points in the first half and senior Ryan Bright netted just one basket as the team collectively shot 33 percent in the game. Like much of the season, their defense made up the difference.”We played extremely well after a slow start,” SHSU head coach Bob Marlin said. “We trailed 14-2 to start the game, but the last 30 minutes we played well. The first ten minutes we weren’t strong, but the last 30 we played a good ball game and we closed the game the way we want to.”Facing a two-point deficit at halftime, the Bearkats came out strong after the break to force 14 turnovers, leading to 16 points. The SHSU defense also limited the Cowboys to 27 points in the second half on 29 percent shooting to give the SHSU its first road conference victory of the 2007-2008 season. Shamir McDaniel led the team with 14 points, while Bright, John Gardiner and DeLuis Ramirez each had nine rebounds. The 15 point margin of victory was the largest against a conference opponent this season for the Bearkats. Hoping to add to their two-game conference winning streak, the Bearkats fell on the latter portion of their road-trip with a 93-90 overtime loss against Lamar (8-8, 2-1 SLC) Saturday night in Beaumont. This was the Bearkat’s second road loss of the season, both of which came in overtime. The loss came despite a strong offensive output from not only the guard duo of McDaniel and Ramirez, but also a perfect evening from the floor by Gardiner, who shot 6- for-6 on the night. The team collectively shot 52 percent, forced 22 Cardinal turnovers. Yet the free throw line gave the Cardinals a 14-point advantage with an 8-for-8 performance to hand the Bearkats their second conference loss.The Bearkats led at halftime by six, 39-33, and in the second-half the lead grew to as much as nine. Yet the Cardinals kept fighting and came back for a 76-74 lead before Ramirez tied the game with 13 seconds left in regulation to force an additional period. In overtime, the Cardinals took an early lead and led by as much as seven with 1:27 left in the extra period. Despite a pair of three-pointers from McDaniel and Bright, Cardinals’ guard Matthew Barrow’s four free throws in the final 20 seconds ended any hope of a Bearkat comeback.”We played very well early,” Marlin said. “Though we didn’t play well for a stretch in the second half where we lost the lead and unfortunately lost in overtime. Our guys played well enough to win.”Ashton Mitchell and Ramirez each had 19 points to lead the Bearkats in scoring, while Bright once again took top rebounding honors with 8. Sam Houston State returns to Johnson Coliseum on Thursday when they host rival Stephen F. Austin (15-2, 3-1 SLC). Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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