Jan. 10, 2009
NACOGDOCHES, Texas -
Matt Kingsley scored 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds to lead Stephen F. Austin to a 75-73 win over Sam Houston State Saturday in the Southland Conference opener for both teams.
SFA (9-4, 1-0 SLC) overcame a poor showing at the foul line and a decisive edge in rebounding for the Bearkats by shooting 50 percent from the field and holding Sam Houston to 34.9 percent from the floor. That mark is just off the season-low 33.3-percent effort the Bearkats (6-8, 0-1 SLC) posted in a loss at Texas A&M.
Sam Houston went 22-of-23 from the foul line, finishing just short of a season-high for free throws. But it was a missed foul shot that decided the game.
Junior guard Girod Adams, playing with a thumb injury on his shooting hand, hit the front end of two free throws to give SFA a 75-73 lead with 12 seconds left. After a missed shot at the other end, sophomore guard Eddie Williams hauled in the rebound and was fouled.
Williams went to the stripe with three seconds left and the chance to put his team up by four, but he missed on the first attempt. His second shot was also off, but as it glanced off the side of the rim, Williams dove into a trio of Bearkats scrapping for the rebound, and the loose ball rolled out of bounds in front of the Lumberjack bench as time expired.
Williams finished with 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, all but three of his points coming during a critical second-half surge.
Senior Josh Alexander joined Williams and Kingsley in double figures with 16 points. Junior point guard Eric Bell added a season-best 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting, including a 2-for-3 effort from 3-point range.
All five SFA starters logged at least 30 minutes in the game. Alexander played all 40 minutes and grabbed a team-leading eight rebounds. Senior forward Nick Shaw and Williams each played 39 minutes. Kingsley played 36, and Bell clocked in at 31.
Preston Brown went 3-for-4 from 3-point range and 9-of-9 at the foul line to lead Sam Houston with 22 points. DeLuis Ramirez scored 12 points and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
SFA led by as many as eight points in the first period, but Sam Houston took a 32-30 lead on a Corey Allmond 3-pointer at the 2:37 mark.
The Bearkats led by one with 40 seconds left when Bell sank a leaning jumper in the paint to make it a 37-36 SFA lead. Williams ripped off a steal at the other end, and Kingsley knocked down a jumper to send SFA to halftime with a 39-36 lead.
The Lumberjacks held a 20-17 advantage in rebounding and a 9-4 edge in second-chance points at the half, but the Bearkat bench outscored the SFA reserves, 11-0, in the opening period. Only three subs - Adams, Walt Harris and Benson Akpan - entered the game for SFA in the first half as each starter posted at least 18 minutes of action.
Sam Houston used an 8-0 run early in the second half to take a 46-41 lead, its largest of the game and first advantage since holding a 4-2 edge in the first half.
Williams answered with a steal and a fast-break layup to trim the lead to three, then Kingsley rebounded a Sam Houston miss and was rewarded with a layup and a foul at the other end. He converted the three-point play to tie the score at 46 with 14:44 to play.
SFA got the ball back on a player control foul by Barkley Falkner, and Adams knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Lumberjacks some breathing room.
SFA eventually led by as many as six down the stretch but could not shake the Bearkats. Sam Houston owned a 24-14 edge in rebounding in the second half and hauled down 10 offensive boards. The Bearkats overcame their 29-percent showing in the second half by outscoring SFA, 15-0, in second-chance points after halftime.
Williams was instrumental in keeping the Lumberjacks afloat. He knocked down jumpers on back-to-back possessions to give SFA a 53-47 lead with 13:02 left. When Sam cut the lead to two points at the 11:05 mark, Williams responded with a 3-pointer to make it a 58-53 game. He then answered a Sam Houston tip-in with a jumper at the 8:29 mark to keep the lead at five points.
After the Bearkats trimmed the lead to one (63-62) with 4:53 left, Bell canned the second of his two 3-pointers to give SFA a four-point lead.
A possession later, Kingsley answered a pair of Ashton Mitchell free throws with a layup to keep the `Jacks in front by four, then put SFA up, 70-64, on another layup at the 2:27 mark.
After finally missing from the line early in the second period, Sam Houston made 15 straight free throws to end the game, including five after Kingsley's layup.
But Alexander and Bell each knocked down a pair of foul shots down the stretch to keep the Lumberjacks ahead, despite SFA's failure to convert a field goal over the final 2:27.
For the game, SFA outscored the Bearkats, 28-22, in the paint. Despite a 12-10 advantage for Sam in turnovers, the Lumberjacks outscored the Bearkats in points off turnovers, 13-9. SFA also held a 7-0 edge in fast-break points.
Shaw finished with eight points, five rebounds and two assists. Williams added six boards and a career-high six assists to his 14 points. Kingsley and Bell each posted four assists, with the quartet of dimes marking a career-best for Kingsley. Adams finished with four points in 10 minutes of work, and Akpan added two points.
The Lumberjacks will be back in action Wednesday, when they head to Conway, Ark., to take on Central Arkansas. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip.
-- SFA --