Sam Houston State survived a desperate Texas A&M Corpus-Christi Islander rally to win 67-59 Saturday at Johnson Coliseum. With the win, the Bearkats improve their Southland Conference record to 10-1 and remain in second place only behind rival Stephen F. Austin.
The Kats defense came out with a lot of energy and forced the Islanders to commit turnovers. The Kats defense did a really good job converting Islander mistakes into points. The Kats scored eight points off six Islander turnovers in the first half as the Islanders had a hard time getting open shots and getting to the rim.
Texas A&M Corpus-Christi’s stars struggled early.
Senior guard John Jordan and sophomore forward Rashawn Thomas combined for only four points in the first 20 minutes of action. They finished the game with a total of 25 points. Jordan scored 15 while Thomas added 10.
This was the first time in eight games Thomas scored less than 13 points.
“Ransom guarded one of the best guards in the league.” head coach Jason Hooten said. “He’s one of the best on-ball defenders I’ve ever coached. Kaheem is up for challenges. Every time he plays a great player like that he does a great job guarding him.”
The Kats suffocating defense forced the Islanders to shoot 38.3 percent from the field. SHSU reeled in a total of 35 rebounds to go along with three blocks and six steals.
Senior center Michael Holyfield was the anchor on defense for the Kats. Holyfield was the game’s leading rebounder with 11 and he also had two blocks. Junior guard Paul Baxter also contributed to the Kats’ strong defensive showing with a game high three steals.
“Holyfield definitely should be the defensive player of the year,” Hooten said.
On the offensive end, the Bearkats shot 47.7 percent from the field while also going 10 for 23 from behind the arc. The Kats finished the game with a total of three players in double figures.
Senior guard Kaheem Ransom had a game high 19 points while senior guard DeMarcus Gatlin added 14 and sophomore guard Dakarai Henderson contributed with 12. Sophomore center Aurimas Majauskas was productive coming off the bench scoring eight points.
“Dakari came in and hit big shots off the bench,” Hooten said. “When we get going in a rhythm and we execute that’s really when Dakari gets going.”
SHSU will next hit the hardwood and play Texas College on Monday at Johnson Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.