- Associated Press - Saturday, January 14, 2017

NATCHITOCHES, La. (AP) - Paul Baxter had a career-best 23 points to help lead Sam Houston State to its fourth straight Southland Conference win, a 77-68 victory over Northwestern State on Saturday.

The Bearkats, picked to win the league, opened conference play with two straight loses. They beat New Orleans, which remains atop the conference standings, in their last outing.

SHSU (13-6, 4-2), which never trailed, was up 39-32 at the break and pushed that to 62-49 with 7:03 left. Northwestern had a 19-9 run and closed to 71-68 following a Sabri Thompson trey with 40 seconds left. Baxter had four free throws and Jovante’ Spivey added two more to hold off the Demons.

Baxter hit 3 of 5 from distance and made all eight free throw attempts. Dakarai Henderson tied his career-high with five shots from distance for 17 points and Aurimas Majauskas added 13.

Devonte Hall led Northwestern State (7-9, 1-4) with 16 points.

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