Conway, Ark. – Sam Houston State used a huge second half to pick up tits 19th victory of the season with a 71-55 win Saturday night over Central Arkansas.
The Bearkats (19-5, 7-4 SLC) trailed by one at the half, but came storming out of the gates in the final 20 minutes. They opened the second half with a 19-4 run to build a 14-point lead, just seven minutes in.
The Bears were able to make one run at the Kats in the second half, cutting the SHSU lead to four with 10 minutes to play. But the Kats quickly got the lead back to 10 and never looked back.
“We talked about defending their guards and keep them down tonight,” said assistant coach Scott Gernander. “We didn’t want to let the crown get into it, because they have won some games late because of that.”
John Gardner was the leading scorer for the Kats with 15points, including 13 in the second half. Ryan Bright led the way for SHSU with 14 rebounds and also scored 14 points. Ashton Mitchell and DeLuis Ramirez each scored 11 points.
The Kats were very active on the defensive end of the floor, limiting the Bears to 34 percent shooting, also wiping out seven shots with blocks. Josten Crow and Bright each had a pair of blocks while Shamir McDaniel, Gardner and Mitchell all had one.
“We reversed the roles on them,” Gernander said. “They are one of the best shot blocking teams in the league and we were able to put it on them tonight.”
For the game, SHSU shot 47 percent, including a 58 percent clip in the second half.
The win keeps the Kats two games back of West Division leader Stephen F. Austin. The Bearkats and Lumberjacks will meet Wednesday night in Nacogdoches.