Back in the Race

With one fell swoop and the roar of 4,000 fans, the Bearkats’ were back on top and the future quickly turned bright as the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team rallied with 36 points in the second half to defeat then SLC-West leader Stephen F. Austin 58-56 on Thursday night.Senior Shamir McDaniel sank a soaring three-pointer with 20 seconds left in regulation to put the Bearkats up 58-56. As in the majority of the game, the Bearkat defense kept a wall up around the interior in the final seconds of the game to force the Lumberjacks’ leading scorer Josh Alexander to miss a last-ditch three-point shot, handing the Bearkats’ the game and a share of the SLC-West lead.Yet with a narrow 57-55 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the UT-Arlington Mavericks gained the upperhand and a half game lead over SHSU and SFA in the SLC-West on Saturday.Ryan Bright, who earned Honorable Mention for SLC “Player of the Week”, nabbed a career-high 18 rebounds and also claimed top scoring honors for the Bearkats with 11 points. McDaniel and John Gardiner each contributed 10 points to the Bearkats’ victory over the Lumberjacks.Alexander scored a game-high 22 points for the Lumberjacks, followed by Matt Kingsley with 11 and Eric Bell with 9.The Bearkat defense held the Lumberjacks to 7-of-28 from inside the arc, forcing the SFA offense to resort to scoring from the outside, going 10-for-19 from three-point range. With the win over the Lumberjacks, the Bearkats improve to 15-3 on the season, 3-2 in conference play while the Lumberjacks carry the same mark. The Bearkats have defeated the Lumberjacks in the past two seasons with their last loss to SFA coming in 2004 at home, 71-61.The hard-fought victory over the Lumberjacks comes on the eve of the Bearkats’ showdown against SLC-West leader UT-Arlington.Sam Houston State is scheduled to host the Mavericks (14-4, 4-2 SLC) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a game that will be broadcast live in six states on Fox Sports Southwest.The Mavericks leading scorer, Jermaine Griffin (No. 3), is averaging 12.9 points per game, followed by Rog’er Guignard, (No. 1) averaging 12.5 points per game and Brandon Long (No. 23) (12.4 points per game).UTA gained the lead in the SLC-West with a 57-55 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (5-13, 2-3 SLC) on the road on Saturday.In that contest, Anthony Vereen scored a game-high 20 points for the Mavericks, followed by Jermaine Griffin with 12 points. The Mavericks lead the Southland Conference in field goal percentage, shooting 48 percent, while the Bearkats rank second in scoring defense by allowing an average of just 58 points per game.Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

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