SFA Advances To Tournament Title Game
March 14, 2014
KATY, Texas - Behind 27 points from senior Desmond Haymon, the top-seeded Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team held off fourth-seeded Northwestern State in a 85-78 victory on Friday night in Katy to pick up the first 30-win season in Southland Conference history and advance to the tournament title game for a second straight year.
The Lumberjacks (30-2) will play third-seeded Sam Houston State in the championship game on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2. The winner will get the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
SFA's 30th win breaks a tie with the SLC's 1984-85 Louisiana Tech squad that went 29-3 with an appearance in the Sweet 16. The `Jacks, with the won over NWST (17-14), also extend their overall win streak to 27 games, which sits second in the nation behind No. 2 Wichita State.
SFA took a 10-point lead into the lockerroom and built it to 16 points (58-42), before the Demons made a charge. NWST's Jalan West, who scored a career-high 36 points, netted 25 points in the second half to pull the Demons back within reach.
The `Jacks held the lead for 21:24, before a made three-pointer from West gave the Demons a 68-65 edge with 7:04 remaining. SFA then tied it on three separate occasions, before reclaiming advantage. Down 74-71 with 4:46 to go, senior Deshaunt Walker hit a three-pointer for the 'Jacks to spark a 14-4 down the stretch. NWST did not record a made field goal the final 3:31, with its last points coming on made free throws with 2:29 remaining.
Haymon paced SFA on the night, finishing 8-of-15 from the floor. The native of Pickens, Miss., collected half of his made field goals beyond the arc, also finishing 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
Haymon was one of four `Jacks to finish in double figures. SLC Player of the Year Jacob Parker, collected 10 points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the line while limited due to foul trouble. Six of his 10 points came after the `Jacks broke their tie late in the second half, all coming with under 2:40 t go. Parker hit two free throws with eight seconds remaining to exorcise SFA's demons against the Demons and advance propel the `Jacks onward.
Off the bench, junior Connor Brooks and Walker accounted for all but one point of the 29 `Jack bench points. Walker finished with 15 points and Brooks netted a career-high 13 points, all coming in the first half.
Hometown native Trey Pinkney tied his career-high with nine assists, with just two turnovers in 32 minutes played
SFA forced 13 NWST turnovers and turned them into 15 points in holding a 15-5 advantage in the category.
Brooks and Walker paved the way for SFA in the first half, combining for all 22 points scored off the bench. Brooks netted a career-high 13 points in the first half, on 5-of-8 shooting. The native of Manhattan, Kan., made 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Enter the game the most three-pointers he had ever made in a game was one, a mark he hit seven time throughout the season.
The `Jacks will make their sixth appearance in the conference tournament title game on Saturday. SFA, now 6-2 as the top seed and 9-5 in Katy, are 1-4 all-time in the championship game. The `Jacks won their only SLC Tournament championship game in 2009, knocking off then sixth-seeded Texas-San Antonio.
Stephen F. Austin Coach: Brad Underwood