The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Sports

December 9, 2012

Bearkats get aggressive, beat HBU 69-57

Mason scores 22 to lead Sam Houston past Huskies

HOUSTON — Sam Houston State snapped its two-game losing streak with a 69-57 win on the road against Houston Baptist on Saturday night. The Bearkats (4-5) were led by Nathaniel Mason’s 22 points, 14 of which came in the second half with a perfect 9-for-9 performance from the free-throw line.

Junior guard DeMarcus Gatlin added 17 points for Sam Houston, while center Michael Holyfield pulled down a game-high nine rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.

Sam Houston coach Jason Hooten has been critical of his team’s poor shot selection in recent games. That wasn’t an issue against the Huskies, even though the Kats failed to shoot a high percentage Saturday night. The Bearkats haven’t shot 40 percent from the field since they beat Liberty on Nov. 20.

But staying aggressive and attacking the rim led to many opportunities from the foul line for Sam Houston in the second half. While the Bearkats went just 1-for-2 from the charity stripe before halftime, they made 19 of 26 after intermission.

“We got off to a good start tonight which is something we haven’t done a lot of,” Hooten said. “I just really wanted to concentrate on being aggressive and taking the ball to the basket. For some reason we didn’t get the breaks in the first half, but I told them at halftime not to be discouraged about that and to continue to attack the basket, and in the second half we were 19 of 26 from the free-throw line.”

Hooten is still making adjustments to his lineups and how he distributes minutes. Gatlin and point guard Darius Gatson have been the only consistent starters this season, while others adjust to new roles.

With Mason, coaches say he’s lacking the necessary consistency and confidence as a Division I newcomer. The Bearkats hope Saturday night’s performance can help that.

“I’m still trying to find my role, just trying to fit in with the team and see what I can do to help,” Mason said. “Whether it’s rebounding, scoring or defending, we’re all just trying to come together and build our team chemistry up. It’s been a great experience for me just adapting from junior college ball to Division I.”

HBU suffered its fourth straight loss after starting the season 2-1. Sam Houston faces HBU again on Jan. 29 at Johnson Coliseum.

“We just wanted to come out here and throw the first punch, get on a roll and just run with it,” Gatlin said. “Step on their throats and don’t let them back into the game. We had five days to prepare for this game so we just got in and competed at practice. This was our best week of competing in practice and it showed today.”

Next on the schedule for Sam Houston is another road match-up Saturday against Samford.

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