NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Stephen F. Austin State University Head Coach Kyle Keller knew how important Wednesday night’s game was for his program.
“I feared us having a let down,” Keller said. It was an emotional game on Sunday against Alabama and we had that emotional loss. I was worried about the hangover effect."
SFA’s game was not only big to get the 'Jacks back into the win column it was also big with it being the first game of Southland Conference play. The game was against Southeastern Louisiana. Last year, the Lions beat SFA in the conference opener and went on to win the regular season title. In their rematch SFA walked away with the bigger win, taking it 57-51 in Katy to win the Southland Conference Tournament title.
Southland Player of the Week Kevon Harris made sure his team knew how big this game was.
“Kevon just kept telling us that we had to come out and win this one,” guard Shannon Bogues said. “We knew this was a must-win.”
SFA came out hot scoring the first 5 points on a Karl Nicholas dunk and a Harris three pointer. The Lions would keep it close and had an 8-5 run in the first half to take a 6 point lead to half time. The key in the game came from the defense. SFA looked like the team many are used to seeing with 23 forced turnover in the game.
“Twenty-three,” Keller said. “That was a normal night for us last year. With the way we are playing this year we are doing cartwheels for that.”
SFA would go on and outscore SELA by 10 in the second half to win 65-60. A big part of that was thanks in part to Shannon Bogues. Bogues led the team with 18 points. It was nothing unusual for the Kileen native but finding out after the game that Bogues was playing after learning earlier in the day that his uncle died made it even more amazing of a performance.
“He used to call me everyday,” Bogues said. “Checking up on me and checking up on the family. I grew up with him too it was a very emotional day. Coach and them, the players have been getting me through the day. Telling me to keep my head up and praying for me. It is life."
After the 1-0 start in conference play, SFA will get a much needed break before travels to Nicholls State next Wednesday night. Nicholls opened up conference play with a 78-72 road win over Northwestern State.