NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Sam Houston defeated Stephen F. Austin 64-59 in what could be the last conference matchup between the two long-time rivals with Sam Houston moving to Conference USA. The Bearkats improve to 23-6 (WAC 13-4) while the Lumberjacks fall to 19-11 (WAC 11-6).
The Lumberjack offense struggled heavily in the half, only making five shots on 20 attempts and making just two shots from beyond the arc on ten attempts. The free-throws were the main reason they were able to stay in modest reach of the Bearkats as they picked up nine free points in the half.
After being down 27-21 at half, the ‘Jacks were able to start the second half much better than the first as they started with a 11-2 run to take the lead for the first time in the contest at 32-29. From there the ‘Jacks and the Bearkats traded blows for roughly the next ten minutes as they swapped the lead and tied the game multiple times. With the score at 44-43 SHSU, the Bearkats went on a small six-point run to grow their lead to 50-43 with 4:30 to go. The Lumberjacks slowly clawed their way back to down by three but after two good free-throws from the Bearkats, their deficit went back to five at 54-49 with just 37 seconds remaining. Nigel Hawkins refused to go down without a fight and threw up a quick three-pointer to put the ‘Jacks back down by two. Shortly after Hawkins’ bucket, the Lumberjacks forced a turnover and a foul out of the Bearkats which lead to AJ Cajuste making two clutch free-throws to tie the game up and head to overtime.
The offensive woes carried over to overtime, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Lumberjacks failed to make any of their five attmepts from the field in extra time and only scored five points from free-throws. Sam Houston scored the first five points in overtime and didn’t allow SFA to score until halfway through the five minutes. The ‘Jacks still got within two points of the lead at 61-59 with under a minute left to play, but after a late turnover with 13 seconds remaining, the ‘Jacks were forced to foul and ran out of time to get any run going.
The Lumberjacks already started at a disadvantage after being forced to play without lead-scorer, Sadaidriene Hall, and then faced more adversity when they lost starter Nana Antwi-Boasiako mid-game after sustaining an injury.
Hawkins ended his career at the Coliseum on a high-note by recording a double-double with 20 points and ten rebounds. Cajuste was right behind Hawkins on scoring with 19 points on the night, along with four rebounds and three assists. Latrell Jossell went a perfect 8-8 from the charity line and picked up 13 total points.
Stephen F. Austin rounds out the regular season by taking on the top team in the WAC in Utah Valley on their home court in Orem, Utah. Catch all the action on Friday, March 3rd at 7:00 p.m.