Sam Houston State’s men’s basketball squad maintained their hot start to Southland Conference play, claiming consecutive wins over Southeastern Louisiana and the University of New Orleans.
The wins gives SHSU a four-game winning streak since losing against Stephen F. Austin heading into the next two games on the road.
The Bearkats (5-1 SLC) were tied with Southeastern Louisiana with 10 minutes left in the first half but hit an offensive streak, outshooting the Lions 12-2 to take the lead with 5:05 left on the clock. The Bearkats maintained offensive power on the floor and went into halftime leading by four.
The Bearkats never looked backed after halftime and went on to win 85-78. Junior transfer guard Kaheem Ransom led SHSU with 22 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds while Jabari Peters also added 17 points by going perfect from behind the arc. As a group, SHSU tallied 62.9 percent from the field and 75 percent from behind the 3-point line.
“We just got in a zone at the beginning of the game,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “[We] had a good number of guys shooting [well].”
The Bearkats took their three-game winning streak and hot shooting into New Orleans Saturday, where they were able to squeak out a 77-70 win.
SHSU was tied with New Orleans 26-26 with 3:50 left in the first half, but their opponent finished the half strong to lead the Bearkats 33-31 at halftime.
To initiate the second period, both teams stayed within striking distance with each other. After three lead changes and only 6:46 left in the second half, the Bearkats turned it on and scored nine unanswered points to take the lead 56-55 with 6:56 left in the game, turning around their mediocre 45 percent from the field in the first half to shooting 59 percent in the second half. SHSU pulled away with strong offensive momentum and kept their lead to hold off New Orleans.
“We faced a lot of adversity in the first half [but] stayed positive at half time,” Hooten said.
Ransom was the top scorer for SHSU with 21 points while teammates Peters, junior center Michael Holyfield and freshman guard Dakari Henderson added 10 points each. The Bearkats also shot 75 percent from the free-throw line to pull away from the Privateers and ultimately take the win.
After scoring an average of 21.5 points over the weekend, Ransom was recognized by the conference as SLC Player of the Week.
Hooten’s team heads to San Antonio to take on the 2-2 Incarnate Word Cardinals Thursday. The Cardinals hold a 14-3 overall record on the season but are situated ninth in the SLC.
“It’s going to be a tough game for the Bearkats, but the team is working to get better and improve on defense,” Hooten said.
SHSU will stay on the road to take on Abilene Christian Saturday following their matchup in San Antonio. The Bearkats will return to Huntsville for a two-game home stand beginning with A&M-Corpus Christi Jan. 30.