KATY, Texas - Stephen F. Austin surged ahead in the second half to defeat Sam Houston 69-49 in the championship game of the Southland Conference tournament at the Leonard Merrell Center in Katy Saturday night.
Sam Houston saw its outstanding 2014 season end with a 23-10 record, the Bearkats’ seventh year with 20 or more victories in the program’s 27 years of play at the NCAA Division I level.
SFA will take a 31-2 record into the NCAA tournament next week. The Lumberjacks won the league’s regular season with a perfect 18-0 mark.
Terrance Motley led the Bearkats with 9 points. Paul Baxter and Will Bond each scored eight.
Sam Houston led by six points early in the first half and trailed by only five at intermission. But SFA broke loose in the second period, out-scoring the SHSU men in the last 20 minutes 36-21.
The game started with four ties and one lead change in the first 10 minutes. A three point play by Jabari Peters followed by a bucket by Will Bond started a 10-5 run for the Bearkats. Terrance Motley gave SHSU a 22-17 lead with a bucker at the 6:38 mark.
The Jacks roared back with a 14-2 streak to go up 31-24 with just under three minutes to play. SFA ended the half up 33-28.
The regular season champion Lumberjacks started the second half strong, outscoring the Kats 10-3 in the first six minutes of the period to go up 43-32. Sam Houston hit only two field goals in the first 11 minutes of the period, with SFA building a 51-35 lead with nine minutes to play.
Sam Houston never came closer than 14 points again.
The Bearkats lose four seniors who combined to average 25.6 points per game this year – Will Bond, Nate Mason, Terrance Motley and James Thomas. Sam Houston returns its top three scorers in Jabari Peters (12.9), Kaheem Ransom (12.0) and Paul Baxter (9.1) plus its leading rebounder and shot blocker Michael Holyfield.
Peters and Ransom both were third team All-Southland Conference selections.