HUNTSVILLE - The Bearkats got the signature nonconference win Sunday evening that has eluded them so far this season, and it came in front of the hometown fans.
Senior guard Chad Bowie scored a game-high 22 points, and sophomore guard Zach Nutall and senior forward Kai Mitchell poured in 16 and 15 points, respectively, to lift Sam Houston State past Louisiana Tech 71-68 at Johnson Coliseum. Junior guard Demarkus Lampley added eight points off the bench and senior Dainan Swoope finished with six.
The Bearkats (5-4) improved to 4-0 at home this season and notched their first win in five all-time meetings against the Bulldogs (6-3) dating back to the 1967-68 season. SHSU now holds a six-game nonconference home winning streak including last season.
Head coach Jason Hooten sits down with Tom Franklin to talk about Sunday's win over Louisiana Tech. pic.twitter.com/7TzLIHU5Bd— Sam Houston State Men's Basketball (@BearkatsMBB) December 9, 2019
The Bearkats trailed by as many as 11 points with 2:20 to go in the first half, but Nutall hit a 3-pointer and scored on a layup to trim the lead to 33-27 a minute later.
Louisiana Tech, which topped the same Mississippi State squad 74-67 Thursday that defeated SHSU 67-58 earlier this season, remained in control until midway through the second period when SHSU began to close the gap. The Kats went on an 8-2 run thanks to baskets and free throws by Lampley and Mitchell to pull with 49-48 at the 9:37 mark.
Mitchell scored on back-to-back layups to give Sam Houston State its first lead of the game at 50-49, and the Bearkats never relinquished the lead.
SHSU lead by as many as seven twice down the stretch, once on a layup by Bowie and the second time on a pair of free throws by sophomore Xavier Bryant with 4:31 to go in the game.
The Bulldogs fought back to tie it twice, but unlike losses to Mississippi State, Central Michigan, San Francisco and UTRGV, the Bearkats made clutch shots in the final minutes to come away with the victory.
Chad Bowie scored a game-high 22 points to help lead the Bearkats to a 71-68 win over La Tech and he sat down afterwards with Tom Franklin. pic.twitter.com/AMLfWNBswE— Sam Houston State Men's Basketball (@BearkatsMBB) December 9, 2019
SHSU went 8 for 19 from behind the arc (42.1 percent) and was 15 for 20 from the free-throw line (75.0 percent). The Kats also scored 23 points off 21 Louisiana Tech turnovers and outrebounded the Bulldogs 38 to 35.
Sam Houston State takes a break off for finals before hosting Wiley College Dec. 15 at 4:30 p.m. in the final nonconference home game of the regular season.