'Jacks Clamp Down, Win 10th Straight
Jan. 17, 2013
NACOGDOCHES, Texas -The Stpehen F. Austin Lumberjacks found themselves down at the half for just the third time all year, but held Southeastern Louisiana to just 16 percent shooting in the second half and picked up its 10th win in a row, 52-40, on Thursday at William R. Johnson Coliseum.
SFA (15-1, 6-0 SLC), the lone Southland team left unbeaten in league play, led 18-12 with less than seven minutes to play in the first half before allowing a 13-0 run to the Lions (5-10, 3-2 SLC) that helped Southeastern take a 25-23 lead into the break. But the `Jacks clamped down in the second half, outscoring Southeastern 20-3 to start the second period and never allowing its lead back to single digits, just missing holding the Lions to under 40 points for the second consecutive season.
Taylor Smith hit all seven of his shots from the field and led all players with 15 points, eight rebounds six blocks and was one of three `Jacks to reach double figures. Hal Bateman set a new career high with 14 points to go along with five assists and a pair of steals, while Antonio Bostichad 10 points and six rebounds, including three three-point buckets in a key stretch of the second half that extended SFA's lead to as much as 18 points.
The Lumberjacks did manage to put together one of their better nights from beyond the arc, hitting 7 of 11 tries from downtown, which helped negate not only a night from the foul line that saw them hit just 5 of 16 shots, but one in which the `Jacks were outrebounded 36-32 and 16-6 on the offensive glass. It was just the second time this season in which SFA lost the battle on the boards.
"I thought we did a much better job of executing in the second half," head coach Danny Kasparsaid following the game. "We turned the ball over eight times in the first half and I'm really not sure where those mental mistakes came from. But I was very proud of our effort in the second half, especially defensively."
SFA outscored Southeastern 24-10 in the paint and held Lion leading scorer Brandon Fortenberry to just four points on 1-for-9 shooting from the field. No Lion reached double figures with three players finishing with a team-high seven points.
The `Jacks held the lead for the majority of the first half before the Lions' run began with a triple from Antonnio Benton. Triples on two of their next three possessions helped Southeastern build a 25-18 lead with less than three minutes to go in the opening half. But five straight points from Bateman, including his first three-point bucket of the year, helped SFA close the gap to just two points at the midway point.
SFA then went to work in the second period, getting 12 of its first 14 points of the half from the duo of Smith and Bateman before Bostic reeled off consecutive long-range buckets to put SFA up 43-28 just 10 minutes into the half. The `Jacks managed to hold the Lions to just one made field goal over the first 12 minutes of the half, and allowed Southeastern to hit just four of its 24 field goal tries to close out the game.
The Lumberjacks will have their hands full on Saturday when it takes on Nicholls, who picked up a big road win on Thursday with a 93-78 victory at Northwestern State. Tip-off against the Colonels is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at William R. Johnson Coliseum.