Senior Kai Mitchell dialed it up a notch on his birthday to guide the Bearkats to an 82-67 victory over Central Arkansas Saturday at Johnson Coliseum.
Mitchell scored a career-high 30 points and pulled down eight rebounds as Sam Houston State improved to 10-5 in Southland Conference action and 17-9 overall. Sophomore Zach Nutall chipped in 21 points and six boards, and junior RJ Smith poured in 11 points.
The Kats shot 43 percent from the floor. SHSU also forced 24 turnovers and turned that into 32 points.
The Bearkats came out firing in the first half, hitting 19 of 41, or 46 percent, of their field-goal attempts. SHSU also went 4 for 12 from 3-point range.
The Kats, who led 47-34 at the break, took their biggest lead of the opening period with 5:06 to go when Mitchell laid one off the glass and drew the foul for an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 38-21.
The Bears (9-17, 8-7) got as close as 52-45 five minutes into the second half, but SHSU responded with a 13-2 run to go up 65-49 at the 7:38 mark on a 3 by Mitchell, who was 3 for 4 from long range.
The Bearkats led by 17 three times on baskets my Mitchell and sophomore Xavier Bryant. SHSU's largest lead was 82-64 on a pair of free throws by Dajuan Jones in the final minute.
The Kats host Lamar Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
The Sam Houston State women's basketball team used a strong fourth quarter to surge past the Central Arkansas Sugar Bears, 73-58, on Saturday afternoon at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
The Kats (17-7, 12-3 SLC) trailed 52-48 entering the final period of play, but outscored UCA (11-13, 7-8 SLC) by a 25-6 margin to pick up the double-digit win and sweep the regular-season series for the second consecutive year.
With the win, Sam Houston stays in sole possession of second place in the Southland Conference standings, just a half-game back of league-leading Stephen F. Austin.
Jaylonn Walker led the Kats with 16 points, hitting all four of her tries from 3-point range, while Amber Leggett had 15 as the only two Kats in double figures on the day. Faith Cook and Courtney Cleveland added nine points each, while La'Sha Haynes had eight points and five rebounds.
In all, the Kats hit nine of their 13 tries from long distance and turned the ball over just 10 times in the game.