Kats Drop Third Straight Game, Fall to ACU 84-81

The Sam Houston State Bearkats (18-11, 9-7 SLC) took on the Abilene Christian Wildcats (13-14, 7-9 SLC) Saturday night at the Johnson Coliseum. The Bearkats came into the game looking to snap out of their recent losing skid, as they had lost three out of their last four games. However, the Kats could not come out on top, falling 84-81.

Things did not get off to a great start for the Bearkats, as the Wildcats started off the game on fire from behind the arc. The Wildcats knocked down six of their first seven shots from behind the arc, and each shot seemed more difficult than the last.

When the Wildcats were not hitting back breaking threes on one end they were flashing their active hands on the other. The Wildcats had six steals in the first half and forced the Bearkats into committing eight turnovers. The Wildcats really had everything going for them in the first 20 minutes of the game. Despite their nine turnovers, ACU shot 52 percent compared to SHSU’s 37.5 percent. The Wildcats went 8-12 from three, while the Bearkats shot just 2-9 from behind the arc.

The Bearkats were fortunate to find themselves down just eight at halftime; between the Wildcats hot shooting, and senior center Aurimas Majauskas and junior forward Chris Galbreath Jr. getting in foul trouble with two fouls apiece, the first could have been a disaster for the Bearkats.

“He [Aurimas] is not 100 percent,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “You saw him gimping around out there. He has a pulled hamstring; you know some guys that have pulled hamstrings are out months. He’s not near himself right now so I knew it was going to be that way tonight, but I thought his presence out there early in the game would give us a boost.”

The Bearkats were able to get offense going at times in the first half, as Majauskas hit each of his first two shots, and looked poised for a big game coming back from his ankle injury. Senior guard Paul Baxter was also able to get involved early with a couple baskets to start the game. However, the Bearkats were not able to sustain their early offense the same way that Wildcats were able to.

Sophomore forward Hayden Farquhar led the way for the Wildcats with 11 points in the first half, going 3-3 from the three-point line. Junior forward Jamal Williams was the leading scorer for the Bearkats in the first half with seven.

“We kind of came out slow,” junior forward Jamal Williams said. “We didn’t bring the fight to them, they came at us and we were on our heels.”

The Wildcats began the second half much like they ended the first half, with hot shooting. The Wildcats started off the half shooting 57 percent, making eight of their first 14 shots. Midway through the second half, Hooten made an adjustment and the Bearkats went into a 3-2 zone defensively, and it took the Wildcats out of rhythm. The open shots the Wildcats were getting disappeared, and they turned into contested jumpers. However, even with the defensive adjustment, the Bearkats were not able to make up ground on the Wildcats lead for much of the second half.

The score was 55-42 when the Bearkats made the adjustment, and it was 66-58 with just 3:50 remaining in the game. The Bearkats just could not string together buckets throughout the game. What made things more difficult for the Bearkats was that Majauskas and Galbreath fouled out of the game. Majuaskas fouled out with 8:22 left to play and Galbreath with 2:25 left in the game, forcing Williams to fill the center position, a place he does not see a lot of playing time in.

“Jamal does a good job playing one though four,” sophomore guard Dewey III said. “It helps the team because he has vision like a point guard.”

In the last 3:50, the game turned into a classic Texas shootout.

Led by Dewey III, the Bearkats got a hot streak of their own going down the stretch. In the last 3:50 the Bearkats hit four three-pointers, two by Dewey, one buy sophomore forward Albert Almanza and one by senior guard Josh Delaney. Those threes got the Bearkats within one with five seconds left. However, junior guard Isaiah Tripp knocked don two clutch free throws to put the icing on the cake for ACU.

Despite the Bearkats’ best efforts, Dewey had a career game, scoring a career high in both points (31) and three pointers made in a single game (6). Up next, the Bearkats will be playing their final home game of the season against the McNeese State Cowboys on March 2. Thursday’s game will be senior night in honor of the five Bearkat basketball seniors.

Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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