After a hot 4-0 start in the season for Sam Houston State’s men’s basketball team, the Bearkats’ steam condensed to a 1-3 record in the past four games, including a 1-1 split record in the Corpus-Christi Challenge last week.
SHSU flew past Arkansas Pine Bluff 75-49 Friday afternoon but couldn’t continue the success into Saturday, falling to Liberty University 62-58.
“We played two good teams in which we played two different types of styles,” SHSU head coach Jason Hooten said. “You want to play different types of styles to get yourself ready for conference. We got a lot of good work in against a zone.”
In the opening round of the Challenge against Pine Bluff, SHSU was able to turn things around on attack. After shooting a disappointing 34 percent against Southern Methodist University the game before, the Bearkats finished Friday shooting for 51.2 percent from the floor.
Junior transfer guard Jabari Peters continued his early dominance as a pivotal player in the starting line-up for the Bearkats by leading SHSU with 16 points. Senior forward James Thomas added 11 points while junior transfer guard Kaheem Ransom and senior forward Nathaniel Mason scored 10 each.
SHSU was finally able to take control on the battle for the boards against Pine Bluff by finishing the game ahead 33-28 after being dominated on rebounds by Texas A&M and SMU.
Offensive production rolled over into the first half of Saturday’s match against Liberty. SHSU shot 12-12 from the free-throw line and led Liberty 30-21 heading into the locker room after the opening 20 minutes of play.
But the Flames’ second-half run would be too much heat for the Bearkats to handle.
Liberty opened the beginning 3:36 minutes of the second half blazing past SHSU with a 13-4 run. The Flames’ Andrew Burrus would end the match leading all scorers with 15 points followed by teammate John Caleb Sanders’ 11 points.
A challenging Liberty defense worked SHSU’s numbers on the floor, making the Bearkats shoot 18-54 on the match.
“It was a dog fight,” Hooten said. “They have a really good team. We played really well on the defensive end. The shots we were making we just couldn’t get down.”
Thomas maintained his impressive statistics on the season