HUNTSVILLE, Texas The Sam Houston men’s basketball team narrowly escaped with an 86-81 win over McNeese State after the Bearkats let a 24-point lead nearly slip away.
After an extremely hot start the Bearkats (10-5, 2-1) seemed to let off of the gas pedal late in the game. McNeese State would cut the Kats’ lead down to one point in the final seconds. The Cowboys made one improbable three-pointer after another in the final minutes.
“Obviously at the end we needed that hot start or we would have been in deep trouble,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “That’s been a key of ours. We did a really good job of coming out against SFA and Northwestern State. Early in the year that was something we struggled with but now we need to do a better job of finishing.
With the Kats clinging to a one-point lead with 2.6 seconds on the clock, Paul Baxter missed a pair of free throws but the second shot stuck on the rim and SHSU was awarded possession on a jump ball. Baxter would then make a pair of free throws to ice the game.
“We came out playing defense and played harder than them. We were diving for every fifty-fifty ball and going after every rebound,” said sophomore guard Paul Baxter. “We just lost our intensity towards the end of the game.”
Kaheem Ransom was the Bearkats leading scorer and rebounder with 17 points and nine boards. Michael Holyfield scored 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Jabari Peters scored 12 and Dakarai Henderson finished with 11.
The Bearkats dominated the first half and led by as many as 21 points. Dakarai Henderson came off the bench to lead the Kats with 11 points on three treys. SHSU hit six from beyond the arc in the first period.
Michael Holyfield added eight first-half points and four rebounds to make the Bearkat lead 48-31 at the interval.
Ledrick Eackles scored 25 points for the Cowboys, including four three-pointers. Shaun Johnson had 12 points and Jamaya Burr added 10 points.
The Bearkts will host Nicholls State Saturday at approximately 4:00 p.m. The Colonels are 3-0 in Southland play.
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