Prior to Saturday night, the list of individuals who racked up 100 or more wins in a Stephen F. Austin men’s basketball uniform was limited to three names: Jacob Parker, Trey Pinkney and Thomas Walkup.
Once the final horn sounded in William R. Johnson Coliseum, however, that trio became a quartet.
Aided by a fantastic team defensive effort, senior Dallas Cameron became the fourth men’s basketball player in SFA’s storied history to reach 100 career wins as the ‘Jacks snuffed out Southland Conference frontrunners New Orleans 71-61 in William R. Johnson Coliseum Saturday night.
“I’ve had some great coaches and great teammates during my time here and they have showed me what it takes to be a good basketball player and a great man,” said Cameron following the game. “I’m grateful for every opportunity I have been given and for the people of this great community for supporting us and taking time out of their days to come and watch us every night”
Cameron put in eight points and added two rebounds, a game-high four assists as well as two steals in his history-making night.
The ‘Jacks outpaced the Privateers, who were seeking their second 8-0 start to a conference schedule in program history, in just about every statistical category and received double-digit scoring efforts from Ivan Canete (14), Isaiah Traylor (13) and Kevon Harris (10).
Two of those three individuals - Harris and Traylor - came off of the bench, resulting in a 25-9 edge for the ‘Jacks in bench scoring. UNO's 61 points was the Privateers' third-lowest scoring output in a game this season. The only team to hold them to fewer markers was Northwestern from the Big 10 (51) and USC out of the Pac-12 (54).
“I thought our team came out from the first jump ball and attacked them defensively which is so tough to do against a team like New Orleans who is senior-driven and has a lot of resolve at all times,” said SFA head coach Kyle Keller. “Isaiah [Traylor] and Kevon [Harris] were great tonight, and that has everything to do with the way we are continuing to grow.”
SFA’s defense forced UNO into 19 turnovers, resulting in 22 of the ‘Jacks’ 71 points. Erik Thomas, the Southland Conference’s leading scorer, put in a game-high 23 points, but UNO utilized just eight players in the tilt and were wore down by SFA’s depth as the game went on.
A couple of things were working in the ‘Jacks’ favor through the first 20 minutes of action. The first was, of course, SFA’s defense that forced just an equal number of UNO turnovers as UNO field goals - 11.
The Privateers struck first with a baseline jumper and a free throw from Travin Thibodeaux on separate possessions, but that was the only lead the Privateers would hold. Consecutive three-point makes by Ivan Canete and Dallas Cameron made matters 6-3 with 17:51 remaining in the first frame and put SFA up for good.
The other element that the ‘Jacks had in spades was field goal accuracy. SFA hit on 61.5-percent of its first-half tries including a 6-for-9 showing from three-point land. Sophomore TJ Holyfield gave the home team its first double-digit advantage of the night when his layup capped a 15-5 SFA surge that took place through the game’s first 5:39.
That lead increased to as much as 12 points points before the first half was a thing of the past. Traylor’s corner triple off of an assist from Holyfield made matters 34-22 SFA with 3:40 left in the frame and Cameron made sure SFA would enjoy a double-digit lead at half when he drilled a wide-open three-pointer of his own with 40 ticks left in the first frame after accepting a pass from Jovan Grujic.
Charging out of the gates much like they did in the first half, the Privateers put in seven of the frame’s first nine points to trim the ‘Jacks’ edge to 44-38. From there, however, Canete responded with his second triple of the night and Gilmore III split a pair of attempts at the free throw line to make it 48-38 in favor of the home team.
At no point during the rest of the game did the ‘Jacks’ lead dip below double-digits and it grew to a game-best 17 points when Ty Charles hit a driving layup with 8:18 left to make the score 60-43.
Both Leon Gilmore III and TJ Holyfield neared double-double territory. The former finished with nine points and a game-best nine rebounds while the latter had eight points and eight rebounds to his credit. Charles finished with seven points, four rebounds and a pair of steals in the ‘Jacks’ 43rd-straight Southland Conference home win.
With the win, the ‘Jacks take over sole possession of third place in the Southland Conference standings and now sit one game back of New Orleans and Sam Houston State - the two teams who are tied for the number-one spot on the league ladder.
In order to continue their climb up the Southland Conference standings, the ‘Jacks will embark in their annual trip to Huntsville, Texas, to tangle with hated Piney Woods rival and current Southland Conference co-leader Sam Houston State on Thursday night. The 198th meeting between the two programs is set to begin at 8:00 p.m. and will be televised live on the American Sports Network.