Tied 68-68 in the waning seconds, junior Jacob Parker stole a Northwestern State pass and sealed the 22nd-straight victory for the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team with a dunk with 0.3 seconds remaining in a 70-68 win over Northwestern State on Saturday night in front of a near-capacity crowd of 7,148 inside William R. Johnson Coliseum.
The victory helped SFA improve to 25-2 on the year and 14-0 in Southland Conference play as the `Jacks notched their 31st-straight home victory in WRJ Coliseum, which is tied for the longest streak in the nation with both No. 2 Florida and No. 5/6 Duke.
Senior Desmond Haymon led the way for SFA with 18 points with Deshaunt Walker contributing 16 points off the bench. Sophomore Thomas Walkup put down 10 points for the 'Jacks while Parker notched nine points and three steals, the last of which of both were the most crucial. Junior Tanner Clayton led the way with seven rebounds while senior Nikola Gajic added seven points, a career-high five steals and four assists.
The 'Jacks shot just 36.5 percent against NWST (12-13, 8-6 SLC), their second lowest shooting performance of the season by a tenth of a percent, but their defensive effort kept them in the game with 23 points off of turnovers. SFA committed 10 turnovers in the first half to the Demons' 12, but in the second half played nearly perfect with just one miscue while forcing nine turnovers for NWST.
The two teams went head to head in the first 20 minutes, with either side keeping it within six points, as the Demons took a two-point edge into the break up 32-30.
The 'Jacks held their mark with the Demons, going on a 17-14 run to open the second half, before a layup from Gajic gave SFA a 47-46 lead with 13:40 to go. The lead proved to be a tipping point as SFA then went on a 13-2 run, holding the Demons to just on field goal over the next 3:54, to stake itself out front 60-48.
NWST answered the charge by the 'Jacks with a 18-4 push of their oven to take a 66-64 lead with 3:09 remaining. The two teams traded layups, before Haymon knocked down two clutch free throws with 23 seconds remaining to tie it up 68-68, followed by Parker's steal and fast break dunk to seal the victory.
The 'Jacks will now close their road schedule with two stop in Louisiana in week 17. SFA will play New Orleans on Thursday, Feb. 27, before heading to Southeastern Louisiana (Mar. 1).