CONWAY, Ark. (NEWS RELEASE) – Jonathan King had a career-high 19 points and eight rebounds and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks picked up their fourth straight win with a 67-56 victory over Central Arkansas on Wednesday at the Farris Center.
SFA (9-7, 3-0 SLC) is now off to its first 3-0 start in conference play since the 2008-09 season, and had to withstand a late charge from the Bears (5-9, 0-2) to do so. King was joined by Jereal Scott (15 points) and Taylor Smith (13 points) in double figures as the ‘Jacks overcame just a 15-of-28 shooting performance from the foul line.
Robert Crawford led the Bears with a career-best 15 points, including three three-point buckets as the Bears were able to trim a 19-point SFA lead in the second half down to just six points with under two minutes to play; however, SFA made its final seven free throws in the final two minutes after hitting just eight of its first 21 in the ball game.
SFA got 40 points off of its bench, led by King's 19 as he was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and hit 5-of-7 from the free throw line. Darius Gardner finished with five assists and a pair of steals, but more importantly hit five straight free throws in the final two minutes of the game to finish with eight points on the night.
Scott pumped in 11 of his points in the opening half as SFA took a 28-20 lead into the break. UCA jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead and last led 10-9 with 11:53 to play, but SFA put together a quick 8-0 run to jump ahead 17-10 and pumped in a pair of buckets to close the half.
But UCA quickly cut the lead to just two by scoring the first six points of the second period before the ‘Jacks went to work on a 13-2 run that started with a pair of short jumpers from Scott and ended with Desmond Haymon's only three-pointer of the night.
With SFA up by 11 with under 11 minutes to play, King and Smith did the heavy lifting in combining to score the next 15 Lumberjack points, eventually swelling the lead to as much as 19 with just over seven minutes to play.
But the Bears, who shot just 4-of-17 from beyond the arc and 8-for-20 from the foul line themselves, were able to put something together behind seven second-half points from LaQuentin Miles and some late sharpshooting from Crawford and Carlin Bremner. The ‘Jacks missed five straight foul shots over a nearly five-minute span, meanwhile UCA managed to trim the SFA lead all the way down to just five points when Crawford nailed a three from the left wing with just 1:32 to play.
But Gardner was up to the task and after missing his first free throw attempt, nailed his next five foul shots as SFA kept the Bears at arm's length in for the final two minutes of the game.
SFA will put its 3-0 league record on the line on Saturday when it hosts UTSA at 6:00 p.m. at William R. Johnson Coliseum.