SFA Athletics Release
Hampered in a first half where his minutes played and fouls accumulated were exactly the same (two), Stephen F. Austin sophomore TJ Holyfield made it a goal to make himself more of a boon for his team in the second half.
By the time the final horn sounded, Holyfield had teamed with junior teammate Leon Gilmore III to provide a potent one-two punch that floored Nicholls.
TJ Holyfield flourished in the second half, amassing everything from his game-high 17 points to his game-best three blocked shots during the frame to help the ‘Jacks construct their first Southland Conference winning streak of the Kyle Keller coaching era by dropping pesky Nicholls 80-60 in William R. Johnson Coliseum on Saturday night.
As good of an offensive haymaker as Holyfield, a sophomore out of Albuquerque, N.M., threw in the final frame, Gilmore III was just as good in the first half. Hailing from Houston, Texas, the forward put in all 12 of his points in the opening frame while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out a game-best five of the ‘Jacks’ season-high 22 assists.
“The biggest key of the whole game was how we shared the basketball, and if we continue to do that I think we will have a lot of success,” remarked Keller following the ‘Jacks’ ninth-straight Southland Conference regular season victory of 20 or more points.
“This team is so different than what we were at the start of the year and I believe the guys are starting to get it,” Keller continued. “They are beginning to find roles, know what their teammates tendencies are and as a results we are getting more and more confident with each game."
In a do-it-all game off of the bench, junior Ty Charles put in nine points and added a team-high six rebounds to go along with three assists and a game-high four steals. Outside of a pair of one-point leads by the Colonels through the first 2:25, SFA never fell behind on the scoreboard and took the lead for good when Gilmore III started a 6-0 run with a driving layup as 17:34 remained in the first half.
As a matter of fact, Gilmore III nearly equaled the Colonels’ entire first-half field goal output, putting in five shots compared to the eight shots Nicholls put in as a team. With 4:06 left in the opening stanza, Kevon Harris split a pair of free throw attempts, putting the ‘Jacks up 35-17 and seemingly setting the stage for an early rout, but Nicholls’ offense came to life for a short time after being aided by a multitude of makes at the free throw line.
By the time the first half was a matter of record, the Colonels had attempted more free throws in the frame than three of the ‘Jacks’ opponents had in a single game this season. It was there, at the charity stripe, where Nicholls found itself able to whittle away at the ‘Jacks’ once-comfortable 18-point lead.
Through the final 3:57 of the opening frame, the Colonels put in five of those free throws as part of a 13-3 run to close within 38-30 at the break. Scoreless in the half’s final 3:15, the only field goal SFA mustered in the last 4:06 of the frame happened to be the first of two corner three-pointers from junior Isaiah Traylor with 3:16 left.
Holding a 38-30 lead at the break, the ‘Jacks’ saw Liam Thomas drill a jump hook in the paint to open the frame. Those points, however, were the last the Colonels would score for almost four minutes.
Started with a downtown hit from the far corner by Charles, the ‘Jacks took off on a 13-0 scoring spree which featured seven points from Holyfield and the second of Cameron’s career-best three long-range hits.
From there, the ‘Jacks’ edge never fell below 13 points for the rest of the night and all that was left was for Holyfield to get some oohh’s and aahh’s out of the SFA congregation in attendance. The sophomore punched down a trio of hard-handed dunks - one of which occurring after he split a double team by the Colonels and finished with a powerful right hand.
For the game, the ‘Jacks put in 55-percent (33-for-60) of their field goal tries and hit at a 50-percent (9-for-18) clip from three-point range. Defensively, SFA forced the Colonels into uncomfortable situations all game long and as a result the visitors committed 21 turnovers and shot just 33.3-percent (18-for-54) from the field.
Johnathan Bell led Nicholls with a game-best 17 points to go along with four rebounds and four steals.
Up next for the ‘Jacks is a journey to Corpus Christi, Texas, to try for a season sweep of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Game time has been set for 7:00 p.m. from the American Bank Center on Thursday night and the tilt will be televised on ROOT Sports Southwest.