From SFA Athletics
SFA Men 74, Incarnate Word 71
Kevon Harris capped off a 25-point performance by sinking the game-winning free throws with 27 seconds to go and the SFA men's basketball team put an end to a three-game Southland Conference skid by scoring a 74-71 victory at Incarnate Word Saturday afternoon.
FIRST HALF• The first lead Incarnate Word enjoyed in the game came when Charles Brown III started the game by sinking a free throw due to an administrative technical foul. Following that foul line make, Samuli Nieminen swished a three-pointer to begin a 13-3 run for the visitors. • SFA concluded the run with a long range hit off the mitts of Shannon Bogues that made matters 13-4 at the 15:49 mark. The 'Jacks drilled each of their first three-pointers • Not wanting to let the game get away from them, the Cardinals' answered SFA's run with a 16-4 spurt that culminated with a Jordan Caruso three-pointer. That long range hit gave the home team a 20-17 edge with 10:07 to play in the frame. • Caruso connected on a pair of free throws with 8:03 remaining in the half to push Incarnate Word's lead to 24-20 - its largest of the game. After those free throws, however, the 'Jacks made a push and took the lead for good. • Shannon Bogues, Davonte Fitzgerald and Harris scored all but two of SFA's points during the visitors' 17-2 run that spanned 4:17. John Comeaux put in two free throws with 3:18 remaining in the half to hand the 'Jacks a 37-26 lead. • SFA, however, watched its 11-point edge drop all the way down to four at the break after Incarnate Word concluded the half on a 10-3 scoring spree. Harris dropped in a driving layup at the horn to help SFA take a four-point lead into halftime.
SECOND HALF• Though the 'Jacks never trailed in the deciding frame, the Cardinals didn't make things easy on them. A pair of free throw makes by Fitzgerald followed by a layup off the hands of Bogues pushed SFA's lead back to eight, 44-36, in the infancy of the final frame. • The 'Jacks' lead was only allowed to reach eight points, however. Twice in the first five minutes and change of the half the Cardinals pulled within two. Christian Peevy helped the home team do so for the second time by making a pair at the free throw line that made matters 48-46 with 14:22 left. • Needing some points, the 'Jacks turned to Comeaux who scored five in a row to help the visitors go back up by six, 53-47, with 12:57 left. • A driving dunk by Harris followed with a smooth eight-footer by Nathan Bain kept the 'Jacks ahead by eight, 57-49, with 9:08 to go. From that point on, SFA hit just two more field goals and lived at the foul line in order to get the job done. • Fitzgerald's straightaway jumper kept SFA's lead at eight, 65-57, with 4:45 left but that's when the Cardinals made their move. A 6-0 run by the home team culminating with a layup by Morgan Taylor shrank the 'Jacks' lead to 65-63 with 3:33 left. • On the ensuing SFA possession, Nieminen struck again. Harris found his fellow junior at the top of the key and the Helsinki, Finland, product laced a straight-line long ball to quiet the Cardinals' crowd and give the 'Jacks a 68-63 edge. • Caruso put in another layup with 44 seconds left that capped an 8-3 run by the Cardinals and tied things up at 71 points apiece. • From there, Harris played the role of hero by sinking his two free throws. Bogues added another with two seconds to go and the Cardinals missed both of their three-point tries in the final 44 seconds to help the 'Jacks hang on.
KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE• The 'Jacks thrived at the free throw line Saturday, finishing 22-of-30 (73.3-percent). A physical game from the get-go, the teams combined for 46 personal fouls which resulted in a total of 58 free throw tries in the 40-minute affair. • Most of the 'Jacks' damage from the stripe came in the final 20 minutes of action. SFA went 15-of-19 (78.9-percent) from the line in the frame and attempted only 18 shots during that same span. • Despite the low number of shots attempted, SFA hit most of them. The 'Jacks connected on 50-percent of their second-half tries from the field while Incarnate Word shot only .348/.250/.889 in the stanza. • The nation's top free throw shooting team, Incarnate Word finished the game with an 82.1-percent (23-of-28) accuracy rate. Four of the six Cardinals who scored wound up with 12 or more points and leading the way in that area was Peevy (16). • Twenty-three of the game's 58 free throw tries came courtesy of two people. Harris went 10-of-11 from the stripe while Peevy finished 10-of-12. • Taylor turned in 15 points and dished out a game-high seven assists for Incarnate Word who held a 16-6 edge in assists. • Incarnate Word held a 30-9 edge in bench scoring while the visitors claimed a 21-16 advantage in points off of turnovers.
COMING UP NEXT• For the rest of the month, SFA won’t leave Nacogdoches and the first of two home games to close out the month of January comes Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. That night, the 'Jacks play host to Southland and in-state adversary Abilene Christian in a clash which will be televised nationwide on ESPN+ and the ESPN app.
SFA Women 66, Incarnate Word 56
Freshman forward Aiyana Johnson picked the absolute perfect time to have her best game of her young career, scoring 15 fourth-quarter points to help the Ladyjacks stave off a pesky UIW squad, 65-55. Aiyana entered the game fresh off setting a new career-high in the win over New Orleans on Wednesday, but this effort was something else entirely, coming in the form of big bucket after big bucket when the Ladyjacks (14-3, 5-0 SLC) needed them most. Johnson’s 17-point effort was part of a big fourth quarter for the 'Jacks, who netted 23 after failing to crack 20 in each of the previous three quarters. With the win, SFA improves to 2-3 on the road and continued its winning streak, now sitting at six games.
GETTING AHEAD EARLYThe Ladyjacks wasted little time getting on the board, scoring off the opening tip on a drive and finish by Imani Johnson. The bucket was the first of a 10-2 run by SFA to start the game, as the 'Jacks connected on four of their first six shot attempts while holding UIW to one of six. Facing suffocating and active defense from the Ladyjacks, UIW couldn’t get much of anything going.
Stephanie Visscher registered two early blocks against the hosts and altered several other shots, and UIW’s scoreless streak extended to over six minutes of gameplay. A small 5-1 run by the Cardinals in the final three minutes of the quarter trimmed the SFA lead to 17-7 heading into the second quarter.
SECOND QUARTER DRAMATICS Down but not quite out, the Cardinals played like a different team in the second frame, pulling the game within single digits multiple times on the strength of a 20-point quarter, their first in the last 22 quarters of play. To counter, SFA continued to work its advantage in the post, scoring 12 points there in the stanza as well as earning trips to the line with penetration.
THE CARDINALS STRIKE BACK A slow start to the third quarter allowed the Cardinals to further close the gap to 38-34 at the midway point of the third quarter. Things didn’t get better after the timeout, as UIW closed the gap to 41-40 with just under two minutes to play in the third quarter. UIW would take their first lead of the contest on a jumper with 1:30 left to play, and a three-ball one possession later capped off an 11-0 run spanning 3:02 of gameplay. SFA would trail the Cardinals 45-43 entering the final quarter of the game.
AIYANA TAKES OVER Playing huge down the stretch, freshman forward Aiyana Johnson scored eight of her ten in the first half of the fourth quarter, allowing SFA to briefly retake the lead, 54-51 with 5:31 remaining. Fresh off a career-high 15 points in Wednesday’s win over UNO, the Lees Summit, Missouri native tacked on two more to tied the game up at 56 apiece with 3:54 remaining. After older sister Imani put SFA ahead 58-56 with a pair of free throws, Aiyana netted a big insurance bucket to extend the lead to 60-56 and scored again with 1:16 remaining to effectively put the game on ice for the Ladyjacks. UIW would get no closer in the contest, and Aiyana’s free throw with 18.5 seconds remaining pushed the margin into double digits, 66-56. OF NOTE• The Ladyjacks have now started off Southland Conference play 5-0 in each of the past three seasons.
• SFA has now shot 44 percent of better from the field in six straight games.