SAN MARCOS, Texas – Hal Bateman went the length of the court to hit just his second three-point bucket of the season with 0.5 seconds remaining to give Stephen F. Austin a 66-65 win over Texas State in the conference opener for both teams on Wednesday at Strahan Coliseum.
The Lumberjacks (7-7, 1-0 SLC) picked up their first conference-opening win on the road since the 2002-03 and had to battle back throughout the night, falling behind 15-2 in the opening minutes of the game before finally taking their first lead of the game with under a minute to play. The win snapped a 16-game home win streak for the Bobcats (7-7, 0-1 SLC) that had spanned over a calendar year, while the 65 points by Texas State was its second-lowest point output of the season.
Bateman's three was his only field goal of the night as he finished with 10 points after hitting 7-for-10 from the foul line, including three free throws in the final minute before his triple. But Taylor Smith carried the bulk of the load throughout the night, following his 21-point outing against UT-Tyler with a 19-point attack against the Bobcats. Smith hit nine of his 10 shots from the floor and ripped down seven rebounds, playing just minutes from his hometown of Schertz, Texas.
In addition to Smith's heavy lifting, SFA stayed within striking distance with its effort at the foul line, hitting 21-of-27 shots from the line compared to just six trips to the charity stripe by the ‘Cats.
Texas State still connected on nine three-point buckets on the night, the most SFA has allowed this season, but were unable to pick up points late in the game, scoring just five points in the final five minutes of play after holding a 60-53 lead with just 4;59 to go.
After an early Bobcat blitz that saw them hit each of their first six shots from the field in building a 15-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game, the ‘Jacks battled back to pull within five points on five occasions without being able to push itself over the hump until Antonio Bostic's three-point bucket with just 1:36 to go in the game.
Three straight free throws from Bateman put the ‘Jacks up 63-62 with just 36 seconds remaining, but Travis Jones followed that by converting an and-one opportunity with just 5.2 seconds to go to put the ‘Cats back up by two.
But Texas State allowed Bateman go take the inbounds cleanly and the junior needed just three dribbles before pulling up three feet behind the left wing to put SFA ahead with the fifth SFA three-pointer of the night.
Officials reviewed the play and put 0.5 seconds back on the clock to give Texas State one final chance, but Brooks Ybarra's desperation heave was not close as the buzzer sounded. The win also marks the second consecutive win for SFA over Texas State in which the ‘Jacks hit a buzzer-beating three for the win after Darius Gardner pulled the same feat in the teams' second meeting in Nacogdoches a year ago.
The Lumberjacks will look to keep the momentum going on Saturday when it hosts Southeastern Louisiana at 6:00 p.m. at William R. Johnson Coliseum.