Coming into Thursday night at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, the Sam Houston Bearkats already had one Power 6 road win on the resume. And in that season-opening upset win, Sam Houston guard Qua Grant had 13 points in his debut for the Bearkats.
Well, let’s make that two Power 6 road wins on the resume for the Bearkats. And another big performance by Qua Grant in an upset win.
Grant scored 18 of Sam Houston’s final 24 points to lead the Bearkats to a 65-55 win over Utah in the Fort Myers Tip-Off Campus Game.
Utah shot a better percentage from the field (43%) than Sam Houston (39%). But, that was about the only thing Utah did better than the Bearkats on Thursday night.
The Utes had just one lead in the game, at the 18:37 mark of the first half. Gabe Madsen hit a 3-pointer off a turnover that made it 3-2 Utah.
But, back-to-back jumpers by Donte Powers and a 3-pointer by Tristan Ikpe gave Sam Houston the lead for good with 15:55 to play in the first half.
Jaden Ray’s 3-pointer with 11:40 to play made it an 8-point lead. But, Sam Houston struggled to make it a double digit lead over the next three possessions. Damon Nicholas Jr. missed a dunk following a steal. Utah forced a Jaden Ray turnover. And then a missed 3-pointer by Ray and a missed put back by Kaosi Ezeagu kept things somewhat interesting.
But, Utah was unable to capitalize on any of those three possessions. The Utes had two turnovers and a missed 3-pointer by Madsen over that same span.
And after all of that mess, Cameron Huefner finally knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Bearkats an 11-point lead with 9:46 remaining in the first half. Qua Grant’s first bucket of the game pushed the lead to 13 before Utah decided to start playing.
Rollie Worster hit back-to-back jumpers to cut into the deficit. And Mike Saunders Jr. gave the Utes a spark off the bench with back-to-back buckets to cut the deficit to seven with 3:28 left in the half.
Marco Anthony was also a spark off the bench for the Utes and it was Anthony’s bucket with 38 seconds left in the half that cut the deficit to four heading into the break.
But, the Utes never could get over the hump. Multiple times in the second half, Utah cut the deficit to two and three points.
But, Sam Houston always had a response. And that response was Qua Grant.
Utah guard Lazar Stefanovic hit a 3-pointer with 10:55 to play that cut the deficit to one. And a little over a minute and a half later, the Qua Grant show began. The 6-1 senior guard scored six straight points to push the lead to seven with 8:17 to play.
Following another bucket by Stefanovic, Grant went on another little run, this time a 7-0 run to push the lead to nine with 2:08 to play. And the closest Utah got in the final two minutes was eight points with 36 seconds to play. Jaden Ray hit a pair of free throws to make it a 10-point win for the Bearkats.
— Sam Houston Men's Basketball (@BearkatsMBB) November 18, 2022
The Bearkats controlled the game for over 38 minutes. And in nearly every aspect. Rebounds margin, 41-31. Sam Houston committed 11 turnovers while Utah committed 16. The Bearkats had 14 offensive rebounds to Utah’s five. Second chance points where Sam Houston held an 8-2 advantage. Bench points where the Bearkats got 22 points off the bench compared to 14 for the Utes. Points in the paint – 26-20 – in favor of Sam Houston. The Bearkats also had 10 steals in the game.
Grant had a game-high 22 points with 20 of those coming in the second half. And Grant was the only Bearkat in double figures. Jaden Ray finished with seven points and Donte Powers added six. Javion May led the Bearkats with nine rebounds, three of those coming on the offensive glass.
Rollie Worster (14) and Lazar Stefanovic (12) were the only Utes in double figures. Branden Carlson finished with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Utes who suffered their first loss of the 2022-23 season.
Sam Houston improves to 4-0 and will head to Florida for the Fort Myers Tip-Off. The Bearkats will face Northern Illinois on Tuesday. And then either LIU or South Dakota on Wednesday.