Although Sam Houston State left the Merrell Center on Saturday without the win to Stephen F. Austin State, the Bearkats will still play in the postseason.
The Kats will host North Carolina-Wilmington on Wednesday in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament at Johnson Coliseum.
“We are excited to still be playing basketball,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “With the season we put together, our players deserve the opportunity to continue playing. We appreciate everyone at CollegeInsider.com, including Joe Dwyer and Angela Lento, for inviting us to participate.”
Had SHSU won against SFA, the Kats would be in the NCAA tournament. However, for the second straight year, the Lumberjacks punched their ticket to the big dance.
The Lumberjacks defeated SHSU 83-70 for the Southland Conference championship in a game where SLC player of the year, SFA’s Thomas Walkup, showcased his skills with 24 points and eight rebounds.
Both teams battled hard during the first half of action where SHSU took a lead at one point during the half. Senior center Michael Holyfield led the Bearkats with 18 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks to earn an all-tournament mention.
SFA shot incredibly from the field, shooting 48 percent from the floor.
“SFA shot 48-percent from the field, and we shot 36,” Hooten said. “That was the difference in the game. It’s a bad matchup for us, but there’s a reason they’ve lost one conference game in the last two years. They’re a bad matchup for a lot of people.”
SFA’s guard Jared Johnson was the Lumberjacks’ second leading scorer with 17 points. The Jacks had four players scoring in double digits.
SHSU went 3-for-20 from behind the arc, shooting 15 percent against its rivals. The Bearkats shot the three-ball 33 percent all season.
Both teams were at the top of the SLC in rebounds and grabbing the boards were in favor with both teams. SHSU had 38 rebounds to SFA’s 37.
Senior guard Kaheem Ransom was the second leading scorer with 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. His teammate senior guard Jabari Peters contributed with 11 points.
“I have to give credit to Stephen F. Austin,” Hooten said. “They were the better team [Saturday.] At the end of the day, I know our guys went out there and played their hardest.”
The Kats now have to face their attention to the CIT. Last season, the Bearkats capped a successful season with the team’s first postseason win in school history. SHSU topped Alabama State 71-49 in the CIT’s first round before losing 77-72 to University of San Diego in the second.
The Seahawks enter Johnson Coliseum 18-13 in the season. UNC-Wilmington lost a close Colonial Athletic Association championship contest to Northeastern 78-71. The Seahawks also lost to NCAA tournament qualifiers No. 4 Louisville and No. 10 Davidson.
The teams’ will tipoff at 6:30 p.m.