SFA fails to beat 2nd straight SEC school, falls to Missouri 82-81

SFA fails to beat 2nd straight SEC school, falls to Missouri 82-81

From SFA Athletics:

COLUMBIA, Mo. - For the second time in as many games, the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team found itself locked on a one-point tilt with an SEC opponent in the closing seconds. The only difference between Tuesday night's tilt against Missouri and Saturday's at LSU was the final result.

After going down by 13 points early in the second half, the 'Jacks staged a remarkable comeback attempt that fell painfully shot in an 82-81 setback to Missouri inside Mizzou Arena.

Sophomore Kevon Harris, who finished with a team-high 19 points, completed a 4-of-4 night from three-point land with a hit from straightaway that cut the Tigers' lead to one with 18 seconds left. Missouri went on to miss both free throws but on the 'Jacks' ensuing possession Kassius Robertson stole the ball away and with 2.7 seconds left Mizzou was able to inbound the ball and dribble out the clock.

In addition to Harris, the 'Jacks received 18 points from TJ Holyfield, 12 from Shannon Bogues and 11 from Leon Gilmore III in a performance which kept the eyes of college basketball lovers everywhere firmly planted on the letters SFA and the town of Nacogdoches, Texas.

In December, no less.

Robertson finished with a game-high 23 points for Mizzou who shot 55.8-percent in the game and drilled 11-of-22 (50-percent) three-pointers to lock up the win. The Tigers' task was made far more difficult thanks to SFA's defense which forced Mizzou into 21 turnovers.

In all, SFA got 24 points off of the Tigers' throwaways and shot 49.2-percent from the field in the narrow loss.

At no point in the game did the 'Jacks lead and the Tigers made the task of taking a lead substantially more difficult with their scorching-hot shooting touch to start the tilt. Both squads hit field goals at a rate above 50-percent through the opening 20 minutes of action, but Mizzou took it to another level by drilling its first seven long-range baskets.

Mizzou started the game on a 7-0 run which was capped by the first of Barnett's three first-half triples before SFA countered with an identical surge. Bogues capped the 'Jacks run with a fast-break dunk to knot matters at 7-7 with 16:38 to go in the tilt.

It was the first of two ties in the opening frame with the second coming after reigning Southland Conference Player of the Week Ivan Canetefinished an SFA fast break with a layup to bring the visitors even at 19-19.

With the Tigers relying on their outside shot to get the job done early on, SFA drove to the painted area time and time again in an attempt to negate the hosts' potent downtown attack. Harris and Gilmore III put in all eight points - all of which came near the tin - through the course of an 8-2 surge by the visitors that sliced Mizzou's lead to 36-33 with 5:32 to go in the half.

From there, however, Barnett and Kassius Robertson led the hosts on a 12-3 run that put the 'Jacks down by double-digits, 48-36, with 1:24 left in the frame. The two aforementioned Tigers put in nine of the 12 Missouri points during the spree before SFA answered.

John Comeaux, a spark plug off the bench throughout the half, hit a pair of free throws and Nathan Bain hammered home a one-handed slam to trim Missouri's lead to 48-40 at the break.

To begin the second half, the Tigers clocked the 'Jacks with a 7-2 run to go up 55-42 with 17:58 to go. Instead of throwing in the towel, the 'Jacks - figuratively - grabbed the lunch pails, donned the hard hats and headed to work.

Over a span of roughly five minutes, took off on a 12-3 run featuring scores from five players that cut the Tigers' lead down to three, 62-59, with 10:59 left. For the rest of the way, Mizzou's edge never increased beyond seven points and following Holyfield's posterizing dunk with 5:11 left, Gilmore III tied things up at 70-all by hitting a free throw.

That deadlock - the final one of the game - did not last long, however, as Missouri responded with a 9-3 surge capped with a fast-break runner by Robertson to go up 79-73 with 2:10 to go.

In the final 1:16, Gilmore III hit a pair of free throws and Aaron Augustin connected on a straightaway three-pointer but Jontay Porter's free throw make with 16 ticks left turned into the eventual game-winning points for the Tigers. 

Jordan Barnett slung in 22 for Mizzou while Gilmore added 10.

Thursday evening, the 'Jacks will close out their non-conference schedule at home in William R. Johnson Coliseum by playing host to Arlington Baptist. Tip-off has been set for 6:00 p.m., in the team's final non-league tune up before beginning an 18-game Southland Conference slate.