|Photo by Robert H Kelly|
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Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications
KATY, TEXAS (March 8, 2017) The No. 5 Sam Houston State Bearkats jumped out to a 49-35 lead at halftime and went on the down the No. 8 Central Arkansas Bears by the score of 77-69 in the first game of the Southland Conference men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. The tournament, which is celebrating 10 years at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy, Texas, will see the Bearkats return to the court at 5 p.m. CST on Thursday, March 9 to face the No. 4 Houston Baptist University Huskies.
Sam Houston was led by senior Dakarai Henderson. The 6-3 guard, who played his prep ball at Pearland Dawson High School shot 6-of-13 from the field for 16 points, including 4-of-9 from three-point range. Teammate John Dewey III added 15 while Paull Baxter chipped in 11. The Bears had three players scoring in double digits; Mathieu Kamba (21), Jordan Howard (18) and Derreck Brooks (14).
The Bearkats had a game high 19-point lead with 3:33 remaining in the first half, but the Bears battled back to within two at the 6:48 mark in the second half. They played close ball with the Bearkats for the next three minutes. At that point, Sam Houston kicked their game into over drive and took a nine point lead with 19 seconds remaining in the game. Last second shooting pushed the Bearkats to the eight-point win.
The 20-12 Bearkats will prepare for their Thursday match-up against HBU who posts a 15-12 record coming into the game. The Huskies, who come into the tournament winning their last nine games, locked up the number three seed by downing Abilene Christian 81-72 at home this past Saturday evening. The winner of the Sam Houston-Houston Baptist game will face No. 1 New Orleans (18-11, 13-5 Southland) on Friday, March 10 with a scheduled 5 p.m. CST tip-off.