NACOGDOCHES, TX (KLTV) - Press Release
Three years ago - on Valentine's Day of 2015 - the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team had its hearts broken by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the American Bank Center. That setback was the 'Jacks' lone Southland Conference loss in a three-year span and one of just five the Islanders claimed against SFA.
The 2018 edition of Valentine's Day also featured some anguish inside the American Bank Center only this time Shannon Bogues and the 'Jacks were the ones dishing it out.
For the second-straight night, Bogues fell in love with the jump shot and finished with a game-high 32 points to lead the 'Jacks in their 87-68 romp over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Wednesday night.
Spreading out his scoring, the Killeen, Texas, product hit 10 of the 'Jacks' season-high 30 free throws, drilled four of his six tries from three-point range and finished 9-of-11 from the field overall. With that line from Bogues, the 'Jacks finished the game shooting 48-percent (24-of-50) from the field which included a 50-percent clip (9-of-18) from three-point land.
All this case at the expense of an Islander squad that entered the game armed with the Southland Conference's second-best scoring defense. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi had been limiting their adversaries to only 68.9 points per game before the 'Jacks became only the second team all season to accumulate over 85 points against them.
"All through our non-conference schedule we pegged ourselves as the hunters, and that's something we got away from as the conference season started," commented SFA head coach Kyle Keller. "There are ebbs and flows in a seven, eight-month season and at SFA, because of how good this program has been, we've been the hunted.
"That's an honor to be sure, but it's a hard identity to keep up for 18 games. Once we started becoming the hunters again, we've really started to get closer to the level I believe we're capable of being at."
Outside of a five-minute stretch to start the game, SFA was nothing short of dominant. Kevon Harris chipped in 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting while TJ Holyfield added 14 as well as a game-high eight rebounds.
Held without a field goal for the game's first 5:23, the 'Jacks were forced to keep up with the Islanders by subsisting on a scoring diet made up exclusively of free throws. Kevon Harris hit a pair of them and Leon Gilmore III added one more to counter a three-pointer and a layup by the Islanders, keeping SFA within two, 5-3, with 16:23 left in the opening frame.
Finally, it was Harris who converted SFA's first shot from the field as the sophomore swished a three from the far wing before Bogues' scoring binge began.
Once Bogues bounded off the 'Jacks' bench, the Islanders' lead quickly became a thing of the past. SFA's high-scoring junior misfired on his first field goal try of the night, but it was his sole miss of the first half as each of the next six shots he fired were dead on. With SFA down 10-7, Bogues netted the visitors' next 10 points on a triple, a layup, a mid-range jumper and a trio of free throws to push the 'Jacks up 17-15 with 10:55 left in the half.
From that point on, SFA never relinquished its lead and by delivering a dose of its bitter-tasting defense the 'Jacks made sure the Islanders never worked their way back into things. SFA held the hosts without a field goal for a stretch of 6:37 in the opening half while Bogues was busy draining shot after shot.
Those 10-straight scored by Bogues represented a large part of SFA's 19-3 run which turned a 13-9 Islander advantage to a 28-16 Lumberjack lead with 6:52 remaining in the first frame.
John Comueax and Kareem South swapped three-pointers in the final 32 seconds of the half and SFA carried a 40-29 edge into its locker room at the half before putting the Islanders away early in the final frame.
Instead of turning to Bogues, the 'Jacks diversified their offense and fed the rock to Harris and Holyfield who scored the 'Jacks' first 15 points in the final stanza. Those scores helped SFA start the frame on a 15-8 run and build an 18-point lead with 16:17 left.
Ty Charles - who put forth a well-balanced line of five points, six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal - swished two of his five free throws to make it a 20-point SFA advantage with 16:03 left.
The visitors' edge ballooned to 24, 67-43, after Samuli Nieminen put in two free throws with 12:47 left and not one time in the remainder of the game did SFA's lead dip below 16 points.
A major point of emphasis for the 'Jacks was limiting the damage done by Islander star Joe Kilgore and that mission was accomplished. Kilgore - who entered with a scoring average of 17.2 per game - netted only nine points. Much of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's scoring was done by Kareem South (20) and Deion Rhea (19).