James Thomas scored 26 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead Sam Houston State to an 80-75 Southland Conference men’s basketball victory over Central Arkansas Saturday evening.
The Bearkats held a 13- point lead early in the second half, but saw it evaporate after a 19-5 UCA Bears run to put Central Arkansas up 50-49 with 9:52 to play.
Sam Houston bounced back, taking a 58-57 lead on a jumper by Thomas with 4:50 to play and not allowing a UCA field goal for the next three-and-a-half minutes.
“James Thomas is a hard worker with a big heart and a motor that never stops,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “He made some big plays for us tonight.”
Will Bond added 15 points including three treys while Michael Holyfield pulled down nine rebounds.
“Will is developing into a shot maker and Michael is beginning to come into his own as a post player,” Hooten said. “Those last two minutes when UCA made one last run at us were the longest two minutes I’ve seen in a long time. But this was a good win for us.”
Robert Crawford scored 21 points and LaQuentin Miles added 19. UCA went 0-for-18 from three point range before hitting three in the final minute and a half to cut Sam Houston’s 11-point lead to game-ending five.
Sam Houston now stands 13-11 for the year and 6-6 in Southland play. The Bears are 9-14 for the season and 4-9 in league action.
The first 15 minutes of the game featured six ties and four lead changes. UCA led by one, 23-22 with 5:12 to go in the period when the Kats started a 13-4 run to go into the locker room at intermission with a 35-27 lead.
Sam Houston led by 13, 44-31 on a three-pointer by Marquel McKinney two minutes and 22 seconds into the second half.
But the Kats went cold, hitting only two of their next 12 shots as the UCA Bears took the lead 51-50 after a 19-5 run.
Never behind by more than a field goal in the second period, Sam Houston rallied to take a 58-57 lead on a Thomas lay-up with 4:50 to play.
The Kat defense held the Bears without a field goal for the next three-and-a-half minutes during a 17-3 run to put SHSU up 72-60 on a pair of free throws by Thomas with 1:51 to play.
Sam Houston made six of eight free throws in the final minute and a half to hold off a final charge by the Bears.
The Bearkats play host to Southland Conference leader Stephen F. Austin Wednesday night at 7:45 p.m. at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.