Bearkats Hold Off Men's Basketball's Rally in 78-74 Victory

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Sam Houston State used a 21-4 run early in the second half to build a 16-point lead, then held off a frenetic rally by the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team for a 78-74 victory on Thursday night at Johnson Coliseum. The Bearkats (15-6, 7-2 Southland) took sole possession of second place in the conference with the win.

Jeff Beverly led the way with 15 points in a losing effort, while John Jordan added 14 points and six assists. Zane Knowles added 10 points to give the Islanders three players in double figures.

James Thomas topped the Bearkats with 17 points, while Terrance Motley (14), Paul Baxter (12) and Kareen Ransom all finished in double figures as well. Michael Holyfield had a huge game with 16 rebounds and five blocks for SHSU.

A&M-Corpus Christi started out hot, converting on three of their first five possessions and getting three stops to build an 8-2 lead on the strength of five points from Beverly. After the teams traded baskets, the Bearkats embarked on a 9-2 run, capped by a three from Will Bond in the right corner that made it 12-11. Sam Houston State continued its strong defensive effort to pull ahead on a Motley jumper, and slowly pushed its lead to 24-20 on a Jabari Peters triple from the left corner.

But from there, the Islanders went on an 11-3 run to close the half to head to the locker room up four points. Rashawn Thomas and Joy Williamson had back-to-back strong buckets inside, then the Islanders closed the half on the strength of buckets by Beverly and Knowles. After Peters' three, A&M-Corpus Christi surrendered just one field goal for the remainder of the half.

Sam Houston State scored the first six points of the half to garner a two-point lead, before Beverly answered with a big three to put the Islanders back up one. But that's when the Bearkats locked down defensively and embarked on a 12-0 run capped by a putback for Holyfield that made it 45-34.

Knowles' tip-in snapped the rally, but the Bearkats continued their momentum, using a combination of strong inside play and timely outside jumpers to pull away, building the lead to 16 after a Thomas layup with 9:24 left. The Bearkats pushed it to 58-42 after trading baskets back and forth with the visitors.

But the Islanders refused to go quietly, using an 11-3 run to cut the lead back to single digits. Pye and Hameed Ali knocked down big threes during the rally for A&M-Corpus Christi. The Islanders cut the lead all the way to five after a steal and fast-break dunk by Jordan with 1:17 left.

The Bearkats pushed it back to nine at the free-throw line, but the Islanders had one more rally in them. After Ali buried another three, Ransom missed both free throws, and a Thomas putback cut the lead to just two. But Ransom bounced back, hitting his final two free throws with 7.4 seconds remaining to seal the victory for the home team.

The Islanders will continue their road trip with a contest at Lamar on Saturday night in Beaumont. The game will be carried live on ESPN3 with Lincoln Rose and Van Chancellor on the call. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. Yannis Koutroupis will also have the call on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX.

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