SFA Locks Down Sam Houston
Feb. 20, 2013
HUNTSVILLE, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks reclaimed a share of first place in the Southland Conference on Wednesday with a gritty 50-44 win over Sam Houston State at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
Hal Bateman hit nine of 10 foul shots and scored 15 points to go with eight assists and two steals for the Lumberjacks (22-3, 13-2 SLC), who overcame a slow offensive start and held the lead for the entirety of the second period. Taylor Smith had to work for his eighth double-double of the season, going for 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Jacob Parker added 10 crucial points from the perimeter.
"I thought both teams played excellent defensively," head coach Danny Kaspar said after the game. "Sam Houston really needed this win and they played like it. We did not shoot well in the first half, but I was very proud of how we played defensively."
The 'Jacks held the Bearkats (14-12, 7-7 SLC) to just 33 percent shooting for the night and hit 11 of 13 foul shots overall. Nathanial Mason and James Thomas each had 14 points apiece for the `Kats, while leading scorer Darius Gatson was held ot just four points.
Neither team set the world on fire offensively in the opening half, with SFA hitting just six of its 25 shots and Sam Houston just five of its 25 shots in the first period. SHSU was just 1 for 13 to open up the game and found itself down 8-2 before Mason finally got the second Bearkat field goal of the night at the 9:33 mark.
That field goal began a 7-0 Bearkat run that put them in front by a point, but was answered by a quick seven points from Jacob Parker, including SFA's one three-point bucket of the half. SFA led by as much as eight with 3:30 to play on Parker's third straight jumper before the `Kats outscored SFA 7-2 to close out the half to trail just 19-16 at the break.
After scoring just four points in the opening period, Smith finally got going in the second half and got a pair of buckets in the first four minutes of the period to help SFA build a seven-point lead on his way to nine points in the half.
"I thought we did a much better job of getting the ball inside in the second half," Kaspar said. "We really harped on that in the locker room at the break and the guys responded well."
A jumper from Bateman gave SFA its largest lead of the night at 36-27 with just over 10 minutes to play, but the `Kats would never go away, getting a three from Will Bond and buckets from Thomas and Terrance Motley to claw back to within 43-40 with less than three minutes to play.
That's when Smith found Parker in the left corner for an open triple that the sophomore hit with 2:26 to play to put SFA back up six. SFA then survived a flurry of shots from the `Kats at the other end and hit four of its six foul shots in the final two minutes to seal the win.
SFA will now travel west to Long Beach, Calif., for a BracketBusters matchup with Long Beach State on Friday at the Walter Pyramid. The game is scheduled to tip at 8:00 p.m. CT and will be aired live on ESPNU.