NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Jereal Scott finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, but UTSA had just enough fuel in the tank to hold off a late Lumberjack run and snap Stephen F. Austin's four-game win streak with a 59-52 win on Saturday at William R. Johnson Coliseum.
The ‘Jacks (9-8, 3-1 SLC) were down by as much as 15 points in the second half, but managed to cut the lead to just four points when Hal Bateman picked the pocket of UTSA's (10-7, 3-1 SLC) Sei Paye twice in a 10-second span, finishing at the rim each time. But Paye got his revenge on the very next possession with a desperation dagger that seemingly iced the game, a three-point bank shot from 35 feet away with no time on the shot clock with under two minutes to play that put the Roadrunners up 56-49.
UTSA held a 29-21 lead at the half and went on a 7-0 run to open the second half, never trailing for the final 35 minutes of the game on their way to running their record to 3-1 in league play.
Taylor Smith was the only other Lumberjack than Scott in double figures, finishing with 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting and eight rebounds. Desmond Haymon and Jonathan King were next in the scoring column with eight points apiece with Haymon canning SFA's only two three-point buckets of the night, each in the second half as the ‘Jacks finished just 2-for-13 from beyond the arc.
The ‘Jacks won the war in the paint (26-18), points off of turnovers (14-4) and second-chance points (14-4) after outrebounding the ‘Runners 33-20 with 13 offensive boards; however, UTSA connected on 7-of-13 triples, including 3-of-4 for sophomore Jeromie Hill who led the ‘Runners with 16 points of his own.
Scott had 12 of his 16 points in the first half with no other Lumberjack chipping in with more than King's three points in the opening period as the Roadrunners jumped out to an eight-point lead at the break on the strength of a 9-2 run that ended with on a jumper from Melvin Johnson III that stretched the lead to 25-15.
Still, it looked as though SFA would go into the locker room down just six points nine of its 17 turnovers for the game coming in the first half; however, Igor Nujic hit a 15-foot baseline jumper at the buzzer that was upheld after review and pushed the lead
The second half had the ‘Jacks fighting an uphill battle throughout, falling behind 36-21 less than two minutes into the second period. But SFA continued to battle, trimming the lead to just seven on a triple from Haymon at the 13:28 mark, and eventually to six at 50-44 with just over eight minutes to play on a short jumper from Scott.
But SFA was not able to capitalize on its good defense for a six-minute span of the half, holding UTSA off the scoreboard from the 9:00 mark to the 3:38 point of the period but scoring just four points itself during that same span.
Bostic put an end to the SFA scoring drought with a free throw to cut the lead to 50-45 with 4:18 to go, but on the very next possession Stephen Franklin finally found the range for the ‘Runners with a three-pointer late in the shot clock that instantly ballooned the UTSA lead back to eight points.
The ‘Jacks weren't through as Bateman made it close with a pair of frontcourt swipes, all to set up Paye's desperation heave that seemed to salt away the game for the ‘Runners.
SFA will get extra rest this week without a midweek contest before traveling to Texas Hall to battle the only undefeated team left in the SLC, UT-Arlington on Saturday.