HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Three Lumberjacks finished in double figures and Stephen F. Austin moved into sole possession of second place in the Southland Conference with a 58-47 win over Sam Houston State on Wednesday at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
The 'Jacks (18-11, 11-4 SLC) closed out its first sweep of the Bearkats (12-18, 6-9 SLC) since the 2003-04 campaign and were paced by
14 points Darius Gardner. SFA continued to shoot well from the field, following up its season-best shooting night on Saturday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by hitting 20 of its 41 shots (48.8 percent) on Wednesday, including 63.2 percent in the opening half.
Desmond Haymon and Taylor Smith each joined Gardner in double figures with 12 points apiece, while Haymon led all players on the glass with eight rebounds. Gardner added to his night with a trio of assists and a pair of rebounds while Antonio Bostic dished out five assists on the night in playing all 40 minutes once again for SFA.
Three of Gardner's long-distance buckets came in the opening half with his nine points proving to be the difference in SFA's 29-20 edge at the break. Still, the 'Jacks got six points from Smith in outscoring Sam Houston 14-6 in the paint in shooting 63.2 percent in the game's opening period.
SFA took its lead less than five minutes into the game on Gardner's first three-point bucket to go up 8-7, but were not able to put any distance between themselves and the 'Kats until an 8-3 run that included a pair of layups from Hal Bateman pushed the lead to 21-15 with 6:02 to play. Gardner then answered with threes on back-to-back possessions in the half's final four minutes and Smith put in a layup to cap an 8-0 run that bumped the lead to its peak at 29-17 before Demarcus Gatlin's three-pointer from the left corner with just 42 seconds to play closed out the first-half scoring.
Antonio Bostic and Desmond Haymon each hit a triple on SFA's first two possessions of the second half and the 'Jacks never led by any less than 10 points the rest of the way on cruising to the 11-point win.
The 'Jacks led by as much as 17 points in the second period on a jumper from Hal Bateman and did not allow the 'Kats back to within single-digits until a pair of threes in the game's final minute from Konner Tucker and Darius Gatson – SHSU's first threes of the second half.
SFA can wrap up the No. 2 overall seed in the Southland tournament on Saturday with a win over Northwestern State on Senior Night at William R. Johnson Coliseum.