It wasn’t exactly a “must win” for the Bearkats, but they showed some resolve in Thursday night’s 78-74 win against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The two teams entered the contest tied for the No. 2 spot in the Southland Conference standings with a potential tiebreaker on the line.
Sam Houston State, coming off a four-game road swing, returned home to Johnson Coliseum to pick up a win against one the league’s most formidable opponents.
“These are the kind of games you know you have to win in the second half of your conference season and going into, hopefully, a chance to play in March,” Sam Houston head coach Jason Hooten said. “These are big games. We had a big crowd tonight, big atmosphere. I was really proud of our guys and the way we competed.”
After trailing by four points at halftime, the Bearkats jumped out to 20-5 run against the Islanders to start the second period.
Senior Terrance Motley came off the bench in the first half and put up 10 points on 5-of-6 from the field to keep Sam Houston within striking distance, depsite Corpus Christi shooting 52 percent from the floor in the first half.
Then it was mostly Sam Houston coming out of the break.
Junior Michael Holyfield, who struggled with foul trouble to start the game opening the door for Motley, scored the first five points of the second half to give the Bearkats a narrow lead.
Sam Houston (15-6, 7-2 Southland) led by as many as 16 points with 9:24 left in the game before the Islanders made a run of their own.
“They’ve got a good team. They’re well-coached and the play hard so I knew they would come back,” Hooten said. “Those are things that we work on in practice all of the time, getting the ball inbounds with 20 seconds left, running down and making free throws. We’re one of the best teams in the country in the last four minutes from the free throw line. I feel good when we get in that situation.”