KATY, Texas (AP) - Conference player of the year Erik Thomas scored 18 points, making all 10 of his free throws, and top seed New Orleans defeated Sam Houston State 75-63 on Friday in a Southland Conference Tournament semifinal.

The Privateers (19-11), aiming for their first NCAA Tournament bid since 1996, play the winner of Friday's late game between No. 2 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and No. 3 seed Stephen F. Austin in Saturday's championship game.

Christavious Gill scored 15 points while Tevin Broyles and Nate Frye added 10 each for New Orleans, which lost to the Bearkats by two on Jan. 12. The Privateers shot 50 percent, all but three of their 24 field goals coming inside the arc.

Dakarai Henderson made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points for the fifth-seeded Bearkats (21-13).

The Privateers led early on, by 39-25 at halftime and were up 19 with 14 minutes left. The Bearkats got within six with 2:19 remaining.