HUNTSVILLE — The Bearkats hit a rough patch late in the second half to fall to Stephen F. Austin State 81-76 at Johnson Coliseum Saturday evening.
Senior Kai Mitchell led Sam Houston State (15-7 overall, 8-3 in the Southland) with 15 points, while junior RJ Smith, senior Chad Bowie, sophomore Zach Nutall and senior Dainan Swoope all scored 11.
The Bearkats broke a halftime tie when Nutall opened the second period with a 3-pointer to make it 39-36. SHSU stayed in front most of the second half until three costly turnovers changed the tide of the game.
SFA (19-3, 10-1) used those mishaps to go on a 12-2 run to go up 70-63 with two and a half minutes to go in the game. The Bearkats were forced to start fouling and the Lumberjacks hit their shots at the line.
SFA shot close to four times as many free throws than Sam Houston State, going 26 of 33.
The Bearkats led for most of the first half. They grabbed their biggest advantage at 23-13 thanks to a 3-pointer by Smith and a short jumper by Mitchell midway through the period.
Sam Houston State shot 50 percent from the field in the first half but was plagued by foul trouble. SFA was 11 for 16 from the free-throw line with three times as many attempts as the Bearkats.
Sam Houston State hits the road for the next three games, beginning with Incarnate Word in San Antonio Wednesday.