Photo Courtesy of the Sam Houston Athletics Department
Head coach Jason Hooten accomplishes 250 wins as a coach as the Sam Houston Bearkats fight off the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros in an 83-64 win.
While the 12th year head coach acknowledged the achievement as one to not ignore, he said that the job isn’t done.
“Great milestone but obviously not ready to stop,” Hooten said.
The Bearkats (15-5, 5-3) were fighting off the Vaqueros (10-10, 1-6) as much as they could, but UTRGV kept it close.
With 7:04 remaining, senior guard Justin Johnson gave the Vaqueros a 61-60 lead with a jump shot on a night he finished with a game high 29 points.
Sam Houston looked exposed for that moment and it was dire that they got something going.
With Hooten and his emphasis on defense, it led to an impressive defensive effort by the Bearkats in the final 7:04 of the game.
Led by senior transfer forward Qua Grant the Kats held the Vaqueros without a made field goal for the remainder of the game.
Sam Houston out scored UTRGV 23-3 over that time.
Grant, who had a team high 20 points, was stunned to hear how he and his teammates did defensively over that span and how Hooten inspires the defense.
“He be on us,” the DeSoto, Texas, native said.
The defense is what ultimately decided the game for Sam Houston to grab the big win.
Grant said it was a win that was needed to build the confidence heading deeper into Western Athletic Conference play.
“It was another great win, another win that we just need. Just need to keep pushing through conference,” Grant added.
Wit the news that junior guard Jaden Ray would be out for the rest of the season, Grant and other guards had to step for this game.
Sophomore transfer Lamar Wilkerson was called upon more as he had 15 points and five rebounds off the bench.
He has effectively established his role the rest of the way as the sixth man.
Sophomore transfer forward Cameron Huefner got 17 points despite a poor shooting night.
Huefner went 9-for-10 at the free throw line that contributed a good team performance from the charity stripe.
Coach Hooten wanted a better performance from the line after the free throw shooting had not been what he has wanted.
The team went 18-for-23.
“I’ll take that everyday,” Hooten said.
Senior guard Donte Powers added 10 points in the winning effort.
With the win, Hooten made history.
For Grant he was happy to do it for someone that took a chance on him.
“I told him I was going to play hard for him and give it all I had,” Grant said.
This win marked the third straight for the Bearkats and look to climb the WAC resume standings Thursday as they take on the Seattle University Redhawks.
The Redhawks are undefeated in WAC play and they will fly to Huntsville, Texas, to face Sam Houston.
It will be broadcasted on ESPN+ and on the radio on 101.7 KSAM and 90.5 KSHU.
Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. CT.