Feb. 27, 2010
NACOGDOCHES, Texas -
Stephen F. Austin held Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to its lowest point total in a league game since joining the Southland Conference, and Jereal Scott scored 16 points, as the Lumberjacks took a critical 64-43 win Saturday in Johnson Coliseum.
The victory secures SFA's third consecutive 20-win season and keeps the Lumberjacks (20-7) in the driver's seat for a No. 2 seed in the Southland Conference Tournament. SFA leads the Southland East Division with a 10-4 league record and now has a two-game lead on A&M-Corpus (14-14, 8-6 SLC) in the overall standings.
Scott led a balanced attack that saw the `Jacks use just eight players on a day when SFA was without the services of starting point guard Eric Bell. Bell suffered a head injury in the Lumberjacks' win at Texas State on Wednesday, thrusting backup Denzel Barnes into the starting lineup for the second time this season.
Barnes responded well, finishing with 11 points. He posted career-highs with six assists and five steals while turning the ball over just three times in a career-high 37 minutes.
Eddie Williams handled the point guard duties during Barnes' brief breaks. He played all 40 minutes, holding the Islander's leading scorer Kevin Palmer to eight points in a 3-for-14 effort. Williams also posted 11 points and four rebounds.
Palmer, who came into the game averaging 19.6 points, had just three points through the first 34 minutes Saturday. The `Jacks also held Demond Watt, a 13-point scorer, to just two.
As a team, the Islanders scored just two points through the first 10 minutes of the second half, when SFA built a 14-point cushion. A&M-Corpus didn't record its second field goal of the period until Filip Toncinic hit a jumper with 9:14 remaining to make it a 43-31 game.
But by the time A&M-Corpus found its touch, it was too late. Scott knocked down two foul shots to answer Toncinic's basket, and Barnes drove for a layup on the Lumberjacks' next possession to stretch the lead to 16 points.
After two Islander free throws, Scott dropped in a layup, then Orren Tims came up with a steal and was fouled intentionally by Toncinic, giving the Lumberjacks two more trips to the line and an extra possession. SFA made the most of it, as Tims sank both freebies, then Scott went to the line for a pair on the ensuing possession, to give SFA a 53-33 lead with 6:50 to play.
A&M-Corpus would cut the lead to 14, as Palmer got a steal and fast-break layup then knocked down a 3-pointer on the Islander's next two possessions, but SFA stayed in command down the stretch.
The Islanders shot just 26 percent in the second period and 32.6 percent for the game. SFA outscored A&M-Corpus, 34-16, in the paint and finished with a 20-6 advantage in second-chance points. The Lumberjacks outrebounded the Islanders, 36-33, behind nine boards by Jordan Glynn. Scott added six rebounds.
SFA also forced 19 turnovers while giving it up just nine times. Barnes' career-high five steals led the way, and Williams and Walt Harris added two thefts apiece. The `Jacks outscored A&M-Corpus, 17-8, in points off turnovers.
Justin Reynolds scored 21 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the Islanders.
Before Saturday, A&M-Corpus' lowest point total in a Southland game was 49, recorded in a win against McNeese State last season. The Islanders joined the league in 2006-07. SFA is now 5-2 against the Islanders and has won five straight in the series.
The Lumberjacks will return to action Wednesday, when they travel to Conway, Ark., to take on Central Arkansas. The game against the Bears is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip. SFA will wrap up the regular season the following Saturday with a home game against UTSA.
-- SFA --