Released by SFA Media Relations
NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks maintained its sole possession of first place in the Southland Conference and secured its fifth 20-win season in the last six years with a 77-67 win overOral Roberts on Saturday in front of 4,377 people at the William R. JohnsonColiseum.
Taylor Smith paced four Lumberjacks (20-2, 11-1 SLC) in double figures with 21 points, hitting nine
of 13 shots from the floor to go along with seven rebounds in playing all 40 minutes of the game.
The ‘Jacks were efficient throughout the night offensively, shooting 49.1 percent from the floor, including hitting six of 13 triples. Each of them was needed as ORU (14-10, 9-3 SLC) canned six three-point buckets themselves, including three from the league's leading scorer, Warren Niles, who finished with 19 points, all in the second half.
Desmond Haymon continued his strong play with 17 points and six rebounds, hitting half of SFA's three-pointers. Jacob Parker and Hal Bateman each added 11 points apiece, while Trey Pinkney provided a triple and six assists in 15 big minutes in the opening half with Bateman saddled with a pair of fouls.
Despite 22 points and 10 rebounds from one of the league's top big men, ORU's Damen Bell-Holter, SFA still managed to dominate the paint, outscoring the Golden Eagles 28-12 in handing ORU its second consecutive defeat and completing a season sweep. SFA was outrebounded for just the fourth time this season, 37-35, but allowed just 16 second-chance points and turned theball over itself just 10 times.
Things did not start off so well for the ‘Jacks as ORU hit four of its first six shots, all from Bell-Holter and Shawn Glover, in opening up a 10-3 lead before Bateman converted an and-one opportunity to start a 12-3 lead by SFA that put the ‘Jacks in front on a layup from Smith.
The ‘Jacks then went to work from the outside, getting jumpers from Haymon, Pinkney and Antonio Bostic as part of another 10-2 run in just over two minutes of play to push the lead up to 24-17 on its way to a 38-28 advantage at the break behind 14 points from Smith and nine more fromBostic.
SFA picked up right where it left off in the second half, scoring each of the first three buckets of the second period and opening up on an 8-2 spurt before a triple from Niles began to get the Southland's leading scorer going after being held scoreless in the first half.
But SFA sandwiched threes from Haymon around two straight long balls from Niles and D. J. Jackson to keep the SFA lead at double digits nearly midway through the period. Fortunately, nine points was as close as the Golden Eagles managed to get the rest of the way as the ‘Jacks constantly had an answer for any ORU offensive push.
The ‘Jacks had to fight around foul trouble from three of its starters, including Smith, who played the final 7:16 with four personalfouls. ORU did their best to extend the game, sending the ‘Jacks to the line 14 times in the final three minutes, of which SFA converted nine successfully.
SFA will now head south for its final weekend road swing of the season beginning Thursday at Nicholls in a game scheduled for ESPN3 at Stopher Gym in Thibodaux. That will be followed by a Saturday match with Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond.