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February 9, 2014

SHSU MEN'S BASKETBALL - Bearkats roll past Lamar

Sam Houston State takes control in first half, coasts to fourth straight victory

HUNTSVILLE — The Bearkats were in control for nearly the entire game in Saturday’s 84-70 win against Lamar at Johnson Coliseum.

The Kats led by 21 points at halftime, dominating Lamar in the paint and with points off turnovers.

Dakarai Henderson scored a team-high 13 points. Michael Holyfield and Terrance Motley scored 11 points apiece and combined for 20 of the Kats’ 35 rebounds.

Lately, the Sam Houston State men’s basketball team has been working on closing out teams late in games, and against a struggling Lamar team, the Kats did exactly that.

Still, Bearkat head coach wants to see more energy from his team, regardless of a lopsided score.

“I thought we played good at times,” Bearkat head coach Jason Hooten said. “Overall, I wasn’t thrilled with our performance today but that’s just because I know what’s down the road and I know we’ve got to play better.

“No matter what the score is, or the time, I’m just always concerned about how we’re playing. I don’t think we played our best game today.”

Sam Houston (9-2 in Southland, 17-6 overall) got off to a hot start with buckets from Paul Baxter, then Henderson, Will Bond and Nathaniel Mason off the bench. The Bearkats shot 6-of-9 from the 3-point line in the first half.

The lead for Sam Houston was pushed to 20 when Henderson hit the second of his two 3s. Lamar made a few runs but never fully recovered.

“We just had to come do what we needed to do. We didn’t come out with the energy Coach (Hooten) wanted us to come out with but we made a couple of shots and made it look better than what it was,” Baxter said. “We didn’t play as well as we should have today.”

Lamar (2-9 in Southland, 5-18 overall) did close out the game outscoring Sam Houston 15-8 in the final four minutes. Hooten said he was disappointed with his team’s play in the second half despite the comfortable lead.

“We talked about it at halftime, not getting sloppy, playing hard doing the things we needed to do in the second half,” Hooten said. “We didn’t do it. You just hope that kind of stuff doesn’t come back to bite you. Today it didn’t. We got a win today and that’s the most important thing.”

The Bearkats have won four straight games and eight or their last nine. Sam Houston remains in second place in the Southland Conference standings behind league-leader Stephen F. Austin.

“We’re trying to get the first or second spot in the conference tournament,” forward James Thomas added. “Closing out games is a big part of being a championship team. If you can’t close out a game, you can’t be a championship team. So you’ve got to just defend, play hard the whole game and do what it takes to win the basketball game.”

This week, the Kats are challenged with preseason favorite Northwestern State on Thursday night before hosting the rival Lumberjacks on Saturday.

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