SHSU defeats UNCW in first round of CIT

Sam Houston State men’s basketball may not be playing in the NCAA tournament, but the Bearkats are making the most of their postseason play.

The Kats played their best game all season to beat North Carolina-Wilmington 87-71 at home and advance to the second round of the Tournament.

An unusual star rose in Wednesday’s contest when sophomore Lithuanian forward Aurimas Majauskas play his best game thus far for SHSU. He started the game off hot and never let the spark die out, finishing the game with 27 points to lead all scorers.

“It’s an all-team effort,” Majauskas said. “My team created shots for me, and I made them. Every day and every night, different guys scores and get the most points. We have a non-selfish team and a nice group here.”

The Seahawks played an up-tempo like offense pushing the ball up the floor fast but did not shoot the ball well against the Kats’ defense. UNCW shot the ball 38.7 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from behind the arc.

Shooting efficient played into SHSU’s favor, who went 9-for-19 from the three-point line, shooting 47.4 percent. They also shot the ball exceptionally well with a 43.8 percent from the field.

The Kats complimented their play with good team ball movement against the unusual foe. SHSU had 22 assists as a team to the Seahawks’ 18 assists.

UNCW’s Addison Spruill and Freddie Jackson were the Seahawks leading scorers during the regular season. Spruill had 11 points with eight boards while his partner Jackson had 16 points and seven rebounds on the night.

It was not enough to match up against senior guards Jabari Peters and Kaheem Ransom, who each had big games for the Bearkats. Ransom contributed with 11 points to his five assists and Peters ended with 11 as well. SHSU finished with five Bearkats scoring in double digits.

The Bearkats outmatched the tough Colonial Athletic Association conference opponent just in about every category. SHSU had 50 team rebounds to the Seahawks’ 35.

With the win, SHSU awaits to host a game Saturday while the opponent is to be determined. The CIT awaits all the first round results before scheduling the second round, using the old National Invitation Tournament format.

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