SFA Advances To Finals
March 13, 2009
KATY, Texas -
Matt Kingsley scored 26 points and Josh Alexander added 14, including two free throws with 7.3 seconds remaining, in the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks' 63-60 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in a Southland Conference Tournament semifinal game here at the Merrell Center Friday night.
The win puts SFA (23-7) into the SLC Tournament finals against UTSA at noon Sunday. The Lumberjacks lost to the Roadrunners the last time they were in the SLC finals in 2004.
UTSA defeated Nicholls State 57-55 in the early semifinal Friday.
Alexander's two free throws came with 7.3 seconds to play and extended SFA's lead to three (63-60).
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's Kevin Palmer took a desperation 3-pointer that bounced off the rim and backboard at the buzzer.
Should SFA win Sunday, it would give the school its first-ever berth into the NCAA Tournament.
"I needed to hit those free throws, bad," Alexander said. "It was either make these free throws or miss them and let them have a chance to win."
Alexander was 5-of-5 from the free throw line for the Lumberjacks, who struggled at times from there. They finished 14-of-20.
The Islanders (18-15) shadowed Alexander's every move, holding him to 4-of-12 shooting from the field.
Kingsley took over on offense for the Lumberjacks. The 6-9 center was 9-of-12 from the field and 8-of-9 on free throws in scoring a game-high 26 points.
Kingsley had 15 points in the second half, just more than half of his team's total in the final 20 minutes.
"I told my coaches that we had to get the ball to either Kingsley or Josh," SFA coach Danny Kaspar said. "I wanted it in their hands, at least 80 percent of the time."
Kingsley hurt the Islanders with mid-range jumpers in the lane throughout the contest.
"I wanted the ball in my hands," Kingsley said. "I was really feeling it in warm-ups. I was confident in my turn-around jumper."
The Islanders led SFA 55-49 with 5:32 remaining, but failed to hold up to the Lumberjacks' strong rush down the stretch.
The 'Jacks closed an 8-0 run with a score by Kingsley to capture a 57-55 lead with 3:06 left.
The final two minutes were back-and-forth, with SFA holding a slim lead and the Islanders scoring but never enough to retake the lead.
With SFA leading 59-58, Corpus Christi's Shamar Coombs missed a shot that led to Lumberjack Eddie Williams with a fast break down the court for a layup for a 61-58 lead with 12.2 seconds to play.
The Lumberjacks' Girod Adams fouled Coombs with 8.9 seconds left, and his free throws cut the margin to 61-60. That was Adams' fifth foul of the contest, sending him to the bench to watch the end.
But Alexander was fouled on the inbounds play, leading to his two free throws that hiked the margin back to three points.
Coombs led the Islanders with 19 points, and forward Demond Watt added 18 -- 12 in the first half -- on 8-of-10 shooting.
SFA held junior Kevin Palmer, the league's top scorer in the regular season with 19 points per game, to 13 points on 2-of-11 shooting.
While both teams shot 50 percent or better in the first half, there was some defense being played.
SFA held Palmer to 7 points on 1-of-5 shooting in the half. His first score came with 4:02 left in the half on two free throws.
Corpus Christi covered up Kingsley inside, limiting him to six first-half shots and 11 points. Alexander had nine points at the break on just six shots.
SFA broke out to an 18-11 lead, but then went cold from the field while Corpus Christi heated up.
The Islanders rode a 12-2 streak to take a 23-20 lead with 12 minutes left in the half.
The teams traded buckets down the stretch, with Corpus Christi taking a 36-34 lead into halftime on two free throws by Palmer, who was fouled by Harris on a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.