HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Sam Houston State remained perfect in Southland Conference play after it knocked down 13 three-pointers, including several at critical moments in the second half, but McNeese didn’t help itself by missing 12 free throws and turning the ball over 18 times in a 77-62 loss Wednesday night.
Roydell Brown recorded his 11th double-double on the season with a 15-point, 10-rebound game. Trey Touchet added 12 points while James Harvey and Sha’Markus Kennedy each scored 11.
Cameron Delaney led SHSU with 16 points behind 3 of 5 shooting from long range while the team connected on 13 of 31 for 42 percent from long range for the game.
The loss dropped the Cowboys to 7-15 on the season and 3-6 in league play while the Bearkats remained perfect in the conference, improving to 10-0, and 15-8 overall.
“Our guys fought hard,” said head coach Heath Schroyer. “I thought we did some good things, but at the end, when you get to the free throw line and don’t convert and have 18 turnovers on the road, it’s just too much to overcome against a team as good as Sam.”
McNeese trailed 32-27 at the half after leading for most of the first 20 minutes but the Bearkats scored six straight in the final 2:58 of the period to climb from a 27-26 deficit to a 32-27 advantage at the break.
SHSU opened the second half on an 8-2 run and led 44-33 after a couple of Delaney free throws with 15:05 to play.
A Touchet layup followed by a Kennedy dunk pulled the Cowboys to within 44-37 just a minute later. The Bearkats answered with four straight points but the Cowboys answered right back with four consecutive of their own to pull to within 48-41 with 12:08 to play.
That’s when SHSU started to answer the Cowboys’ scores with three-pointers.
With 10:06 to play, McNeese trailed just 53-47 but the Bearkats came right back with a 3. Then at the 9:21 mark, Brown sank a couple of free throws to make it a 56-49 game. SHSU followed with a 3 by Chad Bowie.
Touchet answered this time with a 3 to pull the Cowboys to within 59-52 with 8:37 to play, but Delaney came right back just 18 seconds later with a three of his own to give his Bearkats another double-digit lead.
Sam put a halt to another potential McNeese run after a jumper by Touchet made it a 62-54 game, only to see RJ Smith hit a 3 at the 6:50 mark to make it an 11-point lead.
A layup by Kennedy with 3:07 to play made it a 72-62 score but that would be the last points the Cowboys would put on the board the rest of the game.
“Sam is very good,” said Schroyer. “They have a senior-laden group and put four guys on the perimeter who can all dribble pass and shoot as well as defend multiple positions.”
McNeese scored the first six points of the game and led 18-9 at the 10:11 mark behind a couple of three-pointers by Harvey and Touchet. The Bearkats followed up with three 3s over the next couple minutes to cut into the McNeese lead, then hit a trey right before the buzzer to take a five-point advantage at the half.
Both teams shot 47 percent from the floor, McNeese hitting 24 of 51 while SHSU connected on 28 of 59. The Cowboys sank 4 of 12 from long range while the Bearkats made 13 of 31 attempts. And at the free throw line, McNeese was just 10 of 22 while SHSU hit 8 of 12.
McNeese had the edge in rebounds with a 36-29 advantage.
The Cowboys will return home on Saturday when they host Northwestern State. The doubleheader with the women’s game will begin at 1 p.m. at the McNeese H&HP Complex.