James Thomas and Nathaniel Mason each scored 14 points but the Kats were stopped by a stifling Stephen F. Austin defense as they fell 50-44.
Sam Houston (14-12, 7-7 SLC) shot only 20% in the first and trailed 19-16 at the break. SFA (22-3, 13-2 SLC) only shot 24% in the first period.
The game’s first basket was an SFA jumper after two and a half minutes and went to the first media timeout with the score 2-0. SHSU’s first basket was scored after six and a half minutes. The second half provided a little more offense as SHSU shot 47% and SFA shot 54%.
“We had our chances to get a lead in the first half,” said coach Jason Hooten. “We missed a couple of wide-open shots and missed from the free-throw line.”
Hal Bateman led the Lumberjack offense with 15 points and eight assists. Bateman hit nine-of-ten free throws including six-of-six in the first half. He also had seven rebounds.
Taylor Smith had 13 points and ten rebounds while Jacob Parker scored 10 points.
“Stephen F. Austin has a really good team and you just have to tip your hat to them,” Hooten said. “They made the plays late in the game.”
Sam Houston trailed by as much as nine in the second half but managed to battle back and keep the game close. The Bearkats had a few opportunities to make it a one possession game in the final minute but couldn’t make a shot.
The Kats will hit the road for the Bracket Busters game at Eastern Washington Saturday at 3 p.m.