Story updated on 12:11 p.m. on Dec. 4
It looked like the game was over after three minutes and 36 seconds into Sam Houston State’s meeting with Texas-A&M had passed at Reed Arena on Wednesday.
However, the Bearkats turned around a quick 11-0 deficit to a down to the wire back-and-forth contest with their Southeastern Conference foe but fell just short by a final score of 66-63.
Turnovers played a key factor in the gut wrenching loss for the Bearkats. SHSU committed a total of 16 turnovers, doubling the amount the Aggies committed. Along with sloppy ball play, the Kats also struggled shooting the ball. SHSU shot just 35.2 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from the arc, making only seven out of the 22 attempted.
“We’re still not clicking on all cylinders as far as execution goes,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “I think we shot the ball better [Thursday], but our execution is still a work in progress and a lot of that has to do with chemistry and putting guys in certain groups together, and rotation, and certain things of that nature, even though we have so many returners.”
Senior guard Kaheem Ransom was the leading scorer for SHSU, racking up 17 points and shooting 50 percent from the field. Senior backcourt teammate Jabari Peters followed with 12 points and three assists.
The Bearkats were able to win the battle of the boards 40-34 against the Aggies and had a better free throw percentage. Twelve out of the 40 rebounds were on the offensive side of the ball.
“Rebounding is 90 percent inside your chest and about how bad you want it,” Hooten said. “Sometimes it’s about ability, but I am just proud of how our guys pursued the ball and we talked about putting a body on someone every time and they followed the game plan and did what we asked them to do.”
Senior center Michael Holyfield led the way in rebounds for the Bearkats with nine, but he also recorded four turnovers, the most for both teams. He ended the game producing no points.
The Bearkats took advantage of free points, going 85.7 percent on free throws.
Peters and senior guard DeMarcus Gatlin led the free point frenzy, both taking all they could get. Peters went to the line a total of six times and converted on all of his attempts. Gatlin also traveled to the line six times and converted five of them.
The loss to TAMU brings the Kats to 4-3 on the season. SHSU will have a second chance at an SEC opponent next week to Louisiana State.
“We need to execute a little better on offense and take care of the ball better,” Hooten said. “We had too many turnovers, and our goal as a team is to get that number down to 12. So we have to do a better job of that and some of that is silly, easy, just bad turnovers, and some of them are just bad turnovers because we are not where we need to be right now and those things will work themselves out.”
The Kats will first host Texas – Pan American on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.