Sam Houston Dominates Early, Holds off Liberty’s Late Surge in 83-73 Conference Clash

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Bearkats’ Explosive Start and Resilience Secure Victory Against Flames in Conference USA Showdown

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Sam Houston landed some haymakers early then held off a too-little-too-late surge by Liberty in an 83-73 Conference USA victory at Johnson Coliseum on Saturday.

The Bearkats (15-11, 8-3) were rolling for the first 30 minutes of the game, but the Flames would not go quietly.

Liberty (16-10, 5-6) cut the lead to 17 with 12 minutes left in the game as Sam Houston seemed destined to run away with it. Owen McGlashan drained a 3-pointer as the shot clock ran down to increase the lead back to 22 at 66-44 less than a minute later.

Davon Barnes then drew a shooting foul and went 1 for 2 from the line, and Souleymane Doumbia’s layup gave the Bearkats their largest lead of the game at 69-44.

Liberty made it interesting with a 16-0 run to trim the deficit to 69-60, but Sam Houston made the plays down the stretch when it mattered. Jaden Ray’s layup put Liberty down 10 once more, and Damon Nicholas Jr. put the finishing touches on the win with an and one and an alley-oop dunk off an assist by Ray in the closing seconds.

Barnes led Sam Houston with 16 points, and Lamar Wilkerson added 14. Nicholas scored 12 points, and Cameron Huefner and Ray each finished with 11.

The first half belonged to the Bearkats, and they took complete advantage of it by coming out swinging after the 82-66 loss in the first meeting in Lynchburg. Damon Nicholas Jr. drilled a 3-pointer and Davon Barnes followed to make it 18-2 less than six minutes into the game.

Sam Houston kept answering anything the Flames tried to do. Wilkerson made back-to-back layups to push the lead to 22-7 and another 3 by Anthony Wrzeszcz made it an 18-point game with just under six minutes left on the clock.

The Kats’ biggest lead in the opening 20 minutes came with 21 seconds left in the house when Barnes rattled home a 3 to send Sam Houston into the break on top 50-27. The Bearkats shot 57 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3 while holding Liberty to just 32 percent shooting.