The Bearkat men’s basketball team lost the Southland Conference season opener Saturday in a nail-biting finish on the road.
After trailing with just 40 seconds left in the game by one point, Stephen F. Austin stole the game, winning 75-73.
The Kats played hard and hustled down the floor, and despite shooting an abysmal 34.9 percent, the game was never out of contention in large part to the Kats’ excellent free throw shooting. They went 22-for-23 from the line.
Bearkat forward Preston Brown had the best game of his college career, going off for 22 points, and was 9-for-9 from the charity stripe.
“If you look at the stats, its surprising we were in the game,” SHSU head coach Bob Marlin said. “But we made up for it with hard work.”
The losing effort put the Kats at 6-8 for the season, and 0-1 in Southland Conference play.
In the second half, the Kats took the lead early, going up 46-41, which was their biggest lead of the game. But bad shooting and turnovers led to the loss.
Stephen F. Austin forward Matt Kingsley and guard Eddie Williams were thorns in the Kats’ side as both players scored in the double digits. Kingsley was the Lumberjacks high scorer with 21 points, while Williams hit several clutch shots down the stretch to seal the victory.
The Kats’ defense was worse than their floor shooting, allowing the Lumberjacks to shoot 50 percent from the floor.
The game featured six ties and seven lead changes. Sam Houston had five players in double digits including Deluis Rameriz (12), Corey Allmond (11), Ashton Mitchell (10), and Lance Pevehouse (10).
The Bearkats return to action on Saturday at 7 p.m. against Southeastern Louisiana at home in Johnson Coliseum.
“We’ve got Southeastern next and they play a lot like Stephen F. Austin, and they have really good inside players,” Marlin said. “They are well coached and it’s going to be a good game.”