Jacks survive scare on opening night

Take down Texas Wesleyan 83-71

Jacks survive scare on opening night
Members of the SFA Basketball team look on as the school celebrates last year's NCAA Tournament berth.

From SFA Athletics

Senior Shannon Bogues scored a game-high 21 points and went 4-of-5 from three-point land to lead the SFA men's basketball team to an 83-71 season-opening victory over visiting Texas Wesleyan Tuesday night inside William R. Johnson Coliseum.

Trailing by five points early in the final frame, SFA outscored the Rams 46-32 in the final 20 minutes of action to early their second-straight season-opening victory.

FIRST HALF• Charged up to be back in Nacogdoches for the first time since February of 2018, SFA started the game on a 10-3 run that was capped by a powerful two-handed slam from freshman Mitchell Seraille. • SFA's lead bulged to as many as nine point through the early stages of the frame following a straightaway three-pointer from Kevon Harris that made matters 17-6 with 15:31 remaining in the frame. From there, however, the Rams started the slow process of chipping away at the home team's lead. • By connecting on five of their eight first-half three pointers, Texas Wesleyan was able to close the game and tied things for the first time since the opening tip with a Sam Lorenzen long ball that made matters 28-28 with 6:14 to go in the half. • The 'Jacks and Rams swapped buckets from there, with Samuli Nieminen pushing the home team ahead 37-34 with his first downtown hit of the night. That three-pointer, however, proved to by SFA's final bucket of the half and Texas Wesleyan went on a 5-0 run through the last 1:07 of the half to open up a 39-37 lead at the break. • Cleared by the NCAA to play a little over one hour before tip-off, sophomore Karl Nicholas stepped in and contributed seven points and three rebounds in his first half in an SFA uniform.

SECOND HALF• Another three-pointer - this one off the mitts of Julien Jones - extended the Rams' early second-half lead to 42-37 before the 'Jacks put the clamps on Texas Wesleyan to retake the lead. • Finally finding their offensive groove after a difficult first half, the 'Jacks took off on a 14-1 over a span of 6:29 to go up 51-43 with 12:31 left. Through that scoring spree, SFA did not allow Texas Wesleyan to hit a field goal and received fast-break dunks from both Nathan Bain and Bogues. • Playing in his first SFA game, forward Davonte Fitzgerald pushed SFA's lead to double-digits for the first time in the frame with a smooth right-handed runner in the lane with 10:31 left. That upped SFA's edge to 58-48. • The 'Jacks finished +14 in scoring against Texas Wesleyan in the final frame, outscoring the Rams 46-23 in the stanza. SFA posted its largest lead of the night - 79-60 - when Bogues splashed his fourth and final three-pointer with 3:52 to go. • That long-range hit capped a 21-9 SFA run and effectively ended things. • After watching Texas Wesleyan drill 55.6-percent (15-of-27) of its shots in the opening frame, the 'Jacks held the Rams to just 34.8-percent (8-of-23) shooting in the final frame. Conversely, SFA cooked in the final 20 minutes of action, connecting on 57.1-percent (16-of-28) of its shots.

KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE• Bogues picked up right where he left off in 2017-18, pumping in a game-high 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field. The senior out of Killeen, Texas, settled into a newfound role as distributor, too, by dishing out a career-best six assists in the victory. • Graduate student Davonte Fitzgerald turned some heads in his first showing in a Lumberjack uniform. The Atlanta, Ga., native finished with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in his Nacogdoches debut. • Putting forth a fine all-around effort, junior Kevon Harris turned in a line of 10 points, three rebounds, five assists and two of SFA's seven steals. • All of the emotions Nicholas felt after learning he would be cleared for the 2018-19 season just 90 minutes before tipoff did not limit the effectiveness of the Pearland, Texas, native. Nicholas finished with 10 points and three rebounds during the win.• Also finishing in double-digits in the scoring department was junior Nathan Bain who registered a career-high 10 points in his first start of the season. • SFA connected on 50.8-percent (30-of-59) of its shots as a unit and held a plus-seven (28-21) edge on the glass over the Rams. Leading the way in the rebounding category was freshman forward Mitchell Seraille who snared a team-high six to go along with seven points, a steal and a block in 20 minutes of action.• Five players finished with 10 or more points for the Rams, too, with Juwan Jones' 12 leading the way. Rob Thomas narrowly missed out on a double-double as he finished with 11 markers and a game-best nine assists. • Twenty-one of SFA's 83 points - or 25-percent - of the 'Jacks' points came off of 21 Texas Wesleyan turnovers. SFA committed just 10 throwaways the entire night.

COMING UP NEXT• Facing a turnaround of less than 48 hours between games, the 'Jacks return to the floor of William R. Johnson Coliseum for another bout with a nationally-ranked NAIA adversary. Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m., SFA tangles with Southwestern Assemblies of God in a matchup that will be broadcast nationwide on ESPN3 and the ESPN app.