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    Lumberjacks Headed to Big Dance
    Head Brad Underwood celebrates the 2014 SLC Tournament title as he walks across the court.
    Head Brad Underwood celebrates the 2014 SLC Tournament title as he walks across the court.

    March 15, 2014

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    2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Bracket | Tournament Central

    KATY, Texas - Two rivals traded blows throughout the first half, but in the end it was the regular season champ and Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks rolling over Sam Houston State to win the Southland Conference Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament with a 69-49 victory on Saturday night in the Leonard E. Merrell Center.

    SFA (31-2) dominated the second half to upend the Bearkats (23-10) and win its second SLC Tournament and make its second NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.

    Sophomore Thomas Walkup provided the early spark for the 'Jacks, scoring the team's first seven points of the ballgame and continuing his assault on SHSU in the second half. He finished the night with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Walkup was named the tournament MVP for his performances Friday and Saturday. Senior Desmond Haymon was named to the SLC All-Tournament Team for his efforts as well.

    Southland Conference Player of the Year Jacob Parker was limited offensively with only 10 points but provided a much needed presence on defense for SFA with 12 rebounds, for his 10th double-double of the season. The 'Jacks won the battle on the glass 35-23 on the night.

    The total of 49 points for the Bearkat offense was a season-low. SHSU's previous low was 53 points to SMU in a 72-53 loss in November.

    SFA's 31 victories ties the most in school history, matching the 1971-72 season. The win also is the 28th straight for the 'Jacks, which continues to rank second nationally.

    Senior Deshaunt Walker came off the bench and got the crowd into the game for SFA hitting three clutch 3-pointers in the first half. His shots helped the 'Jacks go on a 14-4 run in the first half to pull ahead 31-26 after the Bearkats had gone on a run to take a 22-17 lead. Walker finished the night with 12 points.

    The 'Jacks came out of the locker room in the second and jumped on SHSU to grab the momentum and quickly put the game out of reach after leading 33-28 at half. SFA went on a 21-8 run to go up 56-40 and deflated the Bearkats' hopes of a comeback.

    With 31 wins on the season the 'Jacks match No. 1 Florida. The Gators will play in the SEC Championship final on Sunday. Wichita State finished the regular season and Missouri Valley Conference Championship undefeated at 34-0 heading into the NCAA Tournament.

    SFA will await its seeding and opponent in the NCAA Tournament during Sunday's NCAA Basketball Championship Selection Show on CBS. The Selection Show begins at 5 p.m. The 'Jacks will watch the selection show at Fuzzy's Taco Shop in Nacogdoches. Fans and friends of the program are invited to attend.

    SFA Postgame Quotes
    Stephen F. Austin Coach: Brad Underwood
    "We beat a very good basketball team tonight. Give a lot of credit to Sam Houston, who played three games to get here. We knew this would be a tough game. I thought we were a little tight in the first half. In the second half, I thought our defense was tremendous. We did a great job on the backboards. Overall, I was very pleased. Tom got us off to a great start and these guys were spectacular."

    On their 21-5 run midway through the second-half...
    "That was the difference in the ball game...it really broke it open. Most of it was based on our ability to guard and handle their ball screens. We changed and altered shots at the rim. The thing I was most impressed with was that we did it without fouling. When our team has to rotate, we are at our best defensively because it is something we do very well."

    On their 28-game winning streak...
    "I don't know how to explain it, but whatever "It" is...this team has "It" and it starts with Desmond. I couldn't be happier for him to be a part of this program for four years and get to experience the NCAA tournament. This is an unbelievable group...and not just of basketball players, but of tremendous individual people."

    Stephen F. Austin guard: Desmond Haymon
    On getting the chance to play in the NCAA tournament...
    "It's a blessing. It took me to my senior year to get here. I'm blessed to have such great teammates and coaches. The opportunity was there and we took it...I'm just blessed to have it."

    On maintaining the big lead late in the game...
    "We knew that we couldn't let this opportunity fade away from us. Our defense intensity in the second-half was locked in and we just didn't want this opportunity to slip away. We had great leadership from everybody."

    Stephen F. Austin forward: Thomas Walkup
    On being named tournament MVP...
    "It's a honor but it's not an individual award. Desmond could easily have the MVP or Jake....it could have gone to any of them. It's not like I played better than any of them... it just happened to be my night tonight."

    On their 28-game winning streak...
    "We come out to the court every single day and work hard. It's a tribute to that. Every single night we come out with focus and intensity and we enjoy playing the game with each other."

    -SFA-

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