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Demons shocked at SFA

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Junior SFA forward Jacob Parker goes for the game winning dunk. Junior SFA forward Jacob Parker goes for the game winning dunk.
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KSLA) -

NSU RELEASE

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Junior forward Jacob Parker stole a pass in the back court and drove to a game-winning slam dunk with 0.3 second remaining Saturday night, blunting a tremendous game-ending rally by visiting Northwestern State and giving Stephen F. Austin a 70-68 Southland Conference victory while extending the nation's longest home court win streak to 31.

The Lumberjacks (25-2 overall, 14-0 in the Southland) dodged their first loss in 22 games, stretching the second-best overall win streak in the NCAA. The Demons (12-13 overall, 8-6 in the Southland) fell for only the second time in the last nine games.

Parker swiped a pass from the left wing  to Jalan West, NSU's dynamic sophomore 5-10 point guard, who again flirted with a triple-double. He scored a game-high 21 points, snagged a game-best eight rebounds, dished seven assists and was credited with two steals.

SFA got 18 points, including two tying free throws with 24 seconds left, from senior guard Desmond Haymond, with Deshaunt Walker adding 16 points and Thomas Walkup 10. Parker scored nine.

Northwestern picked up 11 points from Gary Stewart and 10 by DeQuan Hicks. The Demons lost despite shooting 58 percent, committing a season-worst 21 turnovers, while the Lumberjacks scored 23 points off the miscues.

The Demons went on a late 16-2 run to erase a 60-48 Lumberjacks lead, the biggest of the night, which resulted from a 15-2 burst by the home team. Parker's game-winning dunk provided the 11th lead change after SFA forged the eighth tie on Haymond's free throws with 24 seconds remaining.

"It was an awesome ball game. We're down 12 points on the road to a tremendous team, and we reached deep, led by our seniors, and fought back to take the lead. I'm really proud of the kids," said Demons coach Mike McConathy. "Gary Stewart and Patrick Robinson were outstanding even if their stats don't show it."

The decisive sequence resulted from a defensive shuffle in the closing seconds by the Lumberjacks, said McConathy, and an on-court adjustment as the clock dipped under 10 seconds left.

"We went to a play against their zone, trying to get the ball back to Jalan for the last shot, and made a pass back to the top that Parker jumped. Great play by him," said McConathy. "I probably should have called a timeout with the clock winding down. I'm just proud of how we gave ourselves a great chance to win in a tough environment against a really, really good opponent."

The Demons averaged 13 turnovers a game, but were one shy of that total by halftime, although they held a 32-30 advantage on the scoreboard. After being out rebounded by 19 in the first meeting a month ago, NSU battled even on the boards with the Lumberjacks (32 apiece). But the miscues were pivotal.

"They scored a lot off our turnovers. Some of the mistakes were us being in a hurry, some were us not being alert, but we competed. We maintained our composure. We were on a slippery slope down 12, but we pulled together," said McConathy. "The test for us with four games left in the regular season is to take the many positives, build on those, and learn from our mistakes, and get in position to make a run in March."

The Demons played their third straight road game and have two more next week, playing Thursday at Southeastern Louisiana and Saturday at New Orleans. They come home for the last two regular-season contests, March 6 against Central Arkansas and March 8 against Oral Roberts.

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