Behind Balanced Scoring, Tough Defense: Jacks Clobber Centenary 90-59

Behind Balanced Scoring, Tough Defense: Jacks Clobber Centenary 90-59

SFA Athletics Release

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Finally back in the comforts of its home facility following a stretch of over two weeks away, the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team locked into a far more tenacious mindset defensively in order to add another victim to its even-lengthening list of teams who have exited William R. Johnson Coliseum without a win. 

Four players finished with 13 or more points for the 'Jacks who extended the nation's third-longest home court winning streak to 31 games by hammering Centenary College 90-59 on Saturday afternoon.

Senior Dallas Cameron put in a team-best 15 points while Ivan Canete and TJ Holyfieldadded 14 apiece for an SFA squad which dished out a season-best 17 assists on 31 field goals. Off the bench, freshman Kevon Harris didn't miss a single shot and finished with 13 points on 3-for-3 shooting to help the 'Jacks shooting percentage settle at 54.4-percent - another season high.

"We played selfless basketball this afternoon and on the defensive end this team was far more aggressive than it has been lately," said Stephen F. Austin head coach Kyle Keller. "Although we had an average start to each half, our intensity over the course of the game made it up. Today was the beginning of an important week for this team and it pleased me to see everyone continue to progress to a level where need to be."

Freshman point guard Aaron Augustin equaled a career-high by accumulative a game-best five assists to go along with six points and four rebounds and fellow SFA newcomer Leon Gilmore III put forth another balanced effort consisting of nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals in 17 minutes.

Outside of a stretch of 1:15, Stephen F. Austin never fell behind in their first showdown with the Gents since 2011 and Centenary simply had no answer for what the 'Jacks threw at it.

A swarming, high-octane defense enacted by the home team resulted in 15 first-half Centenary turnovers - two fewer than the Gents' point total of 17 through the opening 20 minutes of action. Much of SFA's defensive prowess manifested itself through a span of 8:26 in the frame in which the Gents did not put in a single field goal.

Cameron capped off a 15-5 Lumberjack run over the game's first 7:04 with his first of three three-pointers before Centenary put forth its only threat by scoring five unanswered points. As part of a game-high 17-point performance, James Sapp sank three free throws at the 11:06 mark of the opening frame to trim the 'Jacks' lead to 15-10.

From there, Stephen F. Austin put the game out of reach for good by setting off on a 16-0 run featuring points from six different players. Through that scoring spree, Harris and Cameron each put in five points in increasing SFA's lead to 31-10.

Sapp stopped the 'Jacks' one-sided run by using a three-pointer with 4:20 remaining in the half, but Stephen F. Austin responded with seven of the frame's last 11 points to take a 38-17 edge into the locker room.

Through the first 20 minutes, SFA limited the Gents to a shooting clip of 23.1-percent (6-for-26) and, by and large, got just what it wanted in the painted area. Eighteen of the 'Jacks' 31 first-half markers came in the paint and eight of the 10 players who saw the court put in points.

The only time the 'Jacks' lead dipped below 20 in the final 20 minutes came when Travion Kirkendoll hit a mid-range jumper 2:15 into the frame.

Centenary managed to chip away at the 'Jacks' large lead by using an 11-0 run over a span of 2:43 midway through the frame, but Cameron stopped the Gents' scoring streak with a triple from the far corner with 7:41 to go.

Two free throw makes from Gilmore III with 2:00 to go upped SFA's lead to 34 and gave the 'Jacks their first scoring effort of 90 or more points since a 91-point outing in last season's Southland Conference Tournament Championship against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Holyfield added a game-high eight boards to help SFA out-rebound the Gents 41-28 and the sophomore contributed two assists, two blocked shots and two steals to the 'Jacks' effort as well. As a team, SFA amassed 38 points in the paint (42.2-percent of its total) and held the Gents to a shooting percentage of 34.6 (18-for-52).

In what is arguably its most high-profile non-conference home game of the season, SFA hosts 2016-17 Conference USA favorite UAB on Wednesday night. The meeting between the 'Jacks and Blazers is just the third in the history of the two programs and tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.