Kats pull away from Demons in SLC opener 92-79

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- The Bearkats found their groove in the second half to open Southland Conference action with a 92-79 victory over Northwestern State Wednesday evening at Johnson Coliseum.

Sam Houston State (7-4 overall, 1-0 in SLC) lit it up from 3-point range, going 12 for 27 (44 percent) to stretch its season-high winning streak to three games. The win over the Demons (2-7, 0-1) also pushed the Bearkats to 6-0 at home this season.

Junior Demarkus Lampley was on fire from behind the arc, hitting 5 of 8 3-pointers to finish with a career- and game-high 17 points.

Sophomore Zach Nutall had 15 points, junior RJ Smith and sophomore Xavier Bryant chipped in 14 points each and senior Kai Mitchell poured in 11 to give SHSU five players in double figures in
scoring.

The Bearkats' largest lead of the game came at the 6:35 mark of the second half when Lampley drilled a 3 to make it 78-64. Northwestern State wouldn't go away and got two within nine twice in the final minutes before SHSU closed the contest with a 6-2 run capped by a dunk by Smith.

The Kats scored 17 points off 19 Demon turnovers. Sam Houston State outrebounded Northwestern State 35-31.

The Bearkats led 43-34 at the break by going 9 for 20 (45 percent) from behind the arc. Lampley was 3 for 5, Bryant and Smith were 2 for 4 and senior Dainan Swoope (seven points) and sophomore Mark Tikhonenko (six points) each hit a trey for Sam Houston State.

Tikhonenko's 3-pointer gave the Kats their biggest lead of the first half at 43-32 with 18 second to go before halftime.
SHSU forced 11 turnovers and turned that into nine points.

The Bearkats continue SLC play when they host New Orleans Saturday at 2 p.m.