HAMMOND, Louisiana -- The Bearkats came out firing to snap a three-game losing streak with a 79-70 victory over Southeastern Louisiana at the University Center Wednesday evening.
Sam Houston State shot a blistering 53.7 percent of its field-goal attempts to improve to 9-5 in Southland Conference action and 16-9 overall. The Kats also went 8 for 16 from 3-point range to top the Lions (6-19, 3-11) for the second time this season.
Sophomore Zach Nutall scored a game-high 18 points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Senior Kai Mitchell scored 15 and junior RJ Smith chipped in 13 points.
Senior Chad Bowie added nine points, freshman Cyrus Johnson finished with seven and sophomore Dajuan Jones scored six.
The Lions got as close as two in the second half, but the Bearkats stepped on the gas and opened up the game with an 18-6 run to take a 61-47 lead with 11 minutes left in the contest. Smith hit a 3 and Mitchell threw down a dunk to spark the run.
Southeastern Louisiana would not go away and answered with a 23-12 run to cut it to 73-70 with less than two minutes to go in the game.
Bowie scored on a layup and Mitchell and Jones each hit a pair of free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
The Bearkats led by as many as 12 in the first half when junior Bubba Furlong hit a jumper to make it 33-21 with just under five minutes to go before the break.
The Lions got as close as 33-30, but Sam Houston State closed the half on a 6-3 thanks to a 3 by Nutall and a dunk by Smith in the closing seconds to push the lead back to 39-33.
The Bearkats shot a scorching 57 percent from the field in the opening period and 44.4 from behind the arc. They held Southeastern Louisiana to just 39 percent shooting, but the Lions were 12 for 17 from the free-throw line.
SHSU returns home to host Central Arkansas at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.