Led by 15 points by Kaheem Ransom, the third- seeded Sam Houston State Bearkats downed second-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders, 69-63, the in the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament at the Leonard E. Merrell Center.
For the Bearkats (23-9), James Thomas added 12 points and Jabari Peters scored 11 and dished out four assists. The Bearkats will face third-seeded Stephen F. Austin in the championship game Saturday night.
Hameed Ali paced the Islanders (17-15) with 12 points, while John Jordan finished with 11 points and six assists and Jake Kocher and Rashawn Thomas each chipped in with 10 points.
The Bearkats took a 39-29 lead into the locker room after shooting 56 percent from the field in the first half, including 5-of-11 from beyond the arc. They used a 15-4 to get some separation from the Islanders, who shot 47.6 percent in the half, but just 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
Despite shooting a woeful 22.2 percent from the field in the second half, including just 1-of-10 from 3-point range, the Bearkats did outscore the Islanders at the free-throw line in the period, 21-10. The Islanders attempted to mount a comeback by shooting 45.8 percent in the second. Trailing 45-31 with 14:45 to play, the Islanders held the Bearkats scoreless for the next seven minutes, going on a 9-0 run to cut the Bearkat lead to 45-40 with just over eight minutes to play. They would get no closer though, as Bearkats held on down the stretch to secure the victory and advance to the title game.
The Bearkats finished the game outscoring the Islanders at the free-throw line, 27-17. The Islanders had the edge in points in the paint, 30-22.