Sam Houston Triumphs Over UTEP, Continues Lead in Conference USA

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Bearkats secure victory in a challenging game against Miners, maintaining top position with a 65-54 win.

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EL PASO — It wasn’t pretty at times, but the scoreboard at the end was a beautiful sight to see.

Sam Houston wrapped up a two-game road swing with a 65-54 victory over UTEP at the Don Haskins Center on Saturday. The win kept the Bearkats tied for first in Conference USA at 10-3 and improved their overall record to 17-11.

Cameron Huefner led the way with 14 points, and Davon Barnes chipped in 12. Lamar Wilkerson and Damon Nicholas Jr. each had 10 as Souleymane Doumbia cleaned up the glass with 10 rebounds.

The game was slow to develop at times, but once Sam Houston started rolling, the Miners (13-15, 4-9) didn’t have an answer.

The Kats got off to a much better start in the second half after a sluggish first when Damon Nicholas Jr. drilled a 3 to increase the halftime lead to 32-25. UTEP would battle back to take its first lead at 40-39 since the opening period with a pair of 3s.

Sam Houston went through a stretch where it didn’t score for three and a half minutes before Jaden Ray hit a floater in the lane to make it 46-42. The Miners also went through a rough patch during that time, not scoring for almost five minutes, which allowed the Kats to seize control of the contest.

Wilkerson and Ray scored on back-to-back layups to stretch the lead to double figures, and Huefner made a pair of free throws and buried a 3 with just under two minutes left in the game to seal it.

The game was far from an offensive explosion early on, but the Bearkats finally started hitting shots to cut into UTEP’s first-half lead.

Huefner hit a floater to make it 15-13, then Barnes finally knocked down a 3-pointer as Sam Houston took its first lead at 16-15 with just over five minutes left before the break. The Miners made a basket to retake the advantage only to turn the ball over on their next possession, setting up Barnes’ second 3 of the night to put the Kats up 21-17.

Kian Scroggins threw down a dunk, and Marcus Boykin was able to get to the basket and draw a foul with two seconds to go. He made them both to send Sam Houston into halftime with a 29-25 lead.

The Bearkats return home to face Middle Tennessee on March 2 at 7 p.m.