The Sam Houston State University Bearkats men’s basketball team bounced back from a shaky first half to defeat the Northwestern State University Demons 75-52 Wednesday night at Johnson Coliseum. The Bearkats came into this game riding a four-game winning streak to a 7-1 record at home (4-1 overall in conference play).
SHSU leads the all-time series between these two teams 32-30 after winning the last five consecutive matchups.
In the first half, the Bearkats struggled to get their offense going, shooting just 35.7 percent from the field, as well as losing the rebound total in the first 20 minutes of play by a margin of three, 20-23. Another struggle that SHSU had in the first half of play was moving the ball around and sharing the rock with each other. In the entire first half, the Bearkats had seven assists accompanied by seven turnovers.
Head Coach Jason Hooten commented on the change in his team from one half to the next.
“I thought tonight we were, at times, a little lethargic,” Hooten said. “I think we’ve been a little lethargic the last two games. We haven’t practiced as good as I wanted to. We were much better in the second half then in the first [half].”
One player who stepped up big in this game was senior forward Chris Galbreath Jr. He was able to secure a double-double in the contest, scoring 17 points on 7-19 shooting from the field and three for five from the charity stripe. He was also able to grab 15 rebounds in the game, six of which came on the offensive side of the ball. However, most of that came in the second half as he only had four points and six rebounds in the opening half.
“Sometimes you’ve got little competitions in the game to see who can get the most rebounds,” Galbreath Jr. said. “Rebounding is a very important part of the game and in the first half, we just didn’t get as many rebounds as we should. So, in the second half, we just wanted to come and show the other team that we could rebound with them.”
The Kats improved to 11-8 on the season with a 5-1 record in Southland Conference play. Hooten, with the win, moves his all-time record against Northwestern State to 7-4 while coaching at SHSU.
Ball movement between teammates in the second half was a key to picking up the victory. In the second half, the Bearkats were able to accumulate 13 assists, raising the total of the game to 20. Hooten elaborated on the changes made at halftime in the locker room.
“We really didn’t move the ball around,” Hooten said. “We did way too much dribbling and kind of watching each other, and we have a tendency to do that. We’ve got to do a better job and I’ve got to do a better job as a coach of getting us to move the ball around better because when we do move the ball and we set a lot of screens, we are pretty good offensively just like we were in the second half.”
The Bearkats look to continue their dominance in the Southland Conference as they take on the Lamar Cardinals at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday in Beaumont in search of their sixth straight win.