Kats stay hot, drop Grand Canyon

Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 7:40 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE — The Bearkats are the hottest team in the Western Athletic Conference.

Sam Houston (12-9 overall, 7-1 in WAC) completed a three-game home sweep against three of the league’s top teams with a thrilling 58-56 victory over Grand Canyon (14-4, 4-2) on Saturday at Johnson Coliseum. It was the Kats fifth straight win.

The Bearkats beat New Mexico State 71-46 on Thursday and Stephen F. Austin 49-40 on Jan. 15. The Aggies, Antelopes and Lumberjacks were ranked No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the WAC preseason polls.

Jaden Ray led Sam Houston with 15 points and five assists. Savion Flagg added 13 points, Javion May scored nine and Tristan Ikpe and Donte Powers each finished with eight.

The Bearkats got rolling in the second half after a sluggish start. The Bearkats erased a six-point halftime deficit with a 14-2 run midway through the period.

Flagg got it started with a three-point play to cut the lead to 41-40. The Antelopes answered but May came right back and scored four straight on a layup and a pair of free throws. Flagg scored a couple of layups around a 3 by Powers to put Sam Houston up 51-43 with just under eight minutes left in the game.

Grand Canyon fought back to tie it at 54-54, but Ray knocked down a clutch 3-pointer with 1:26 to go for a 57-54 lead. Ikpe hit a crucial free throw down the stretch and solid defense kept the Antelopes from rallying.

The Bearkats struggled offensively in the first half after a quick start saw them grab a 14-9 lead when Powers knocked down a 3 with just under 12 minutes to go in the period.

Grand Canyon took over from there. The Antelopes used an 18-4 run thanks to four 3-pointers to go up 27-18 at the 4:29 mark.

Sam Houston responded with back-to-back 3s by May and Demarkus Lampley to pull within 28-26. Grand Canyon closed the half with a 4-0 run, however, to take a 32-26 lead into the break.

The Bearkats shot just 26 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point range in the first half.