Debrief: A recap of 2022-’23 Sam Houston Bearkat men’s basketball

Another off-season begins for Sam Houston Bearkat men’s basketball.

This season of Bearkat men’s basketball was among one of the, if not the best, season that the program has ever had.

The Bearkats finished with a record overall 26-7 with a Western Athletic Conference record of 14-4. The conference record was second in all of the conference but due to the WAC implementing a resume seeding system, SHSU was the number one seeded team come the WAC Tournament.

The regular season included big wins that had Sam Houston in national scopes at some points.

It included an incredible 52-51 win over Big 12 conference team Oklahoma Sooners thanks to a buzzer beater by sophomore transfer guard Lamar Wilkerson on Nov. 7, 2022, in the season opener.

The Bearkats weren’t done.

They would go on to upset another Power 6 school when they went to Salt Lake City 10 days later to face the Utah Utes of the PAC-12.

It was a part of the Fort Myers Tip-Off as a way to kick it off.

Behind senior transfer guard Qua Grant’s 22 points and a stellar defense the Bearkats fended off the Utes to win 65-55.

Then they traveled to Fort Myers, FL, where they would win the Palms Division championship of the invitational where they would pounce on the Northern Illinois Huskies and then the South Dakota Coyotes.

Photo courtesy of the Sam Houston Athletics Department

Senior guard Donte Powers was named the Palms Division Most Valuable Player.

The Bearkats started 6-0.

They would lose two of their next three games to the Nevada Wolfpack and Oklahoma State Cowboys. Both were road games.

They then won their last two conference games with wins against the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks and old Southland Conference rival Texas State Bobcats.

These games were on the road as well.

Bearkats finished 10-2 overall in non-conference play.

The Bearkats did not slow down in WAC play.

With a season 2-game series sweep over the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, a win over the Seattle U Redhawks, the Southern Utah Thunderbirds and other good wins, the Bearkats finished with a 14-4 record.

That was good for second place in the WAC but with the resume seeding system, they were put as the number one seed in the tournament.

There were players that received conference honors as well.

Qua Grant won WAC Player of the Year after averaging 13.8 points, 3.9 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Grant also received WAC first team honors.

Powers was selected for the WAC all second team.

Senior guard Javion May was selected to be a part of the all-WAC defensive team.

Newcomer transfer forward from Australia Cameron Huefner was also given conference honors as he was selected as part of the WAC Newcomer team.

With the regular season over, honors given out and the path to the dance much more straightforward, it was time to get to work.

In their first game they beat the California Baptist Lancers 64-51 to advance to the semi-finals.

That gave the Bearkats a rematch on that Friday March 10 against the Grand Canyon Antelopes.

A year ago to the day, the Lopes knocked the Kats out of the WAC Tournament last year.

They would do it again as GCU was hot from the 3-point arc and defeated SHSU 78-75.

Another year of becoming short of glory.

But the season was not done.

A few days later, the Bearkats received their first ever at-large bid for the National Invitation Tournament.

Despite being a number three seed, they weren’t able to host the first round against the Santa Clara Broncos of the West Coast Conference.

Santa Clara have had close bouts with eventual NCAA Tournament teams Gonzaga Bulldogs and St. Mary Gaels.

Sam Houston went to Santa Clara and won a close one 58-56 in what was an emotional win.

It was after the program’s first ever win in the NIT.

The Bearkats, however, would fall to the North Texas Mean Green up in Denton, TX, in a tough 75-55 loss.

Season officially over.

At the end of the day Sam Houston Bearkat basketball accomplished a lot this season.

With the off-season now beginning, there are more questions than answers.

It is going to be detrimental with Sam Houston athletics moving to Conference USA in the summer of 2023.

With rumors and reports that Bearkat head coach Jason Hooten might be leaving for New Mexico State, there is no telling how this off-season will go.

At this point it is going to be a “wait and see.”

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