Lions trip up Lumberjacks in Hammond

Lions Trip Up Lumberjacks In Hammond

HAMMOND, La. – The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks shot a season-low 35.7 percent from the field on Saturday, dropping just its thirdgame of the season, 54-50 to Southeastern Louisiana at the University Center.

The loss drops the 'Jacks (21-3, 12-2 SLC) into a tie for first place with Northwestern State atop the Southland Conference. The Lions (10-13, 8-5 SLC) remain in a tie for fourth place in the league with Sam Houston State.

SFA has still won seven of its last 10 meetings with Southeastern, but has lost each of the last three times it has traveled to Hammond.

Southeastern, who nearly knocked off Northwestern State on Thursday, allowed 14 offensive rebounds to the 'Jacks and was outscored 30-18 in the paint; however, they hit 16 of 24 foul shots compared to just eight of 17 for the Lumberjacks. SFA also hit just two of its 11 tries from beyond the three-point line.

SFA entered the night leading the Southland in field-goal percentage, and started off hot by hitting six of its first nine shots, but went cold to close out the half

Hal Bateman led SFA with 15 points and three assists, and Taylor Smith had his eighth double-double of the year with 12 points and 10rebounds; however, Smith was only able to get off seven shots on the evening against an exaggerated sagging defense employed by the Lions.

Brandon Fortenberry was big for the Lions, hitting 16 points after just scoring four points in the previous meeting. Todd Nelson had a dozen points and Roosevelt Johnson played a big role down low in pulling in 14 rebounds.

Still, the 'Jacks pulled 14 offensive boards compared to jut five for the Lions, but were only able to convert those into seven second-chance points.

The 'Jacks started off hot, opening up a 12-0 lead by hitting six of its first nine shots from the field, including a pair of buckets from Smith; however, after building as much as a 12-point lead, they cooled off and finished by hitting just 32 percent of its shot from the field.

The Lions, though, were not much better themselves and hit just 36 percent of their field goals, but did get a pair of threes from Todd Nelson, who canned five treys just 48 hours earlier in the Lions' narrow loss to Northwestern State on Thursday. SFA dominated the glass, 24-15 in the period, and pulled in 10 offensive boards but was not able to take advantage of them, scoring just four second-chance points.

But the Lions closed out the half on an 11-2 run as the 'Jacks went the final 6:22 without putting in a field goal in lettingSoutheastern get as close as 23-21 heading to the locker room.

Southeastern wasted no time in taking a lead on a Fortenberry three-pointer less than two minutes into the second half. But neither team was ever able to build much of a lead as it changed hands nine times in the final period. The Lions never led by more than five points at any juncture of the game, but got a huge shot from Nelson with 3:22 to play from the right corner to snap a 45-45 tie after the 'Jacks had squandered a four-point lead of its own.

From there the Lions did their work at the foul line, hitting six foul shots in the final two minutes to ice the game, while the 'Jacks were never able to convert from the outside.

SFA will try and rebound after seeing its six-game win streak snapped on Wednesday with a road meeting at Sam Houston State before traveling to Long Beach, Calif., for a date with Long Beach State as part of the Ramada BracketBusters on Friday, Feb. 22 at The Pyramid.

-SFA News Release-


Ben Rikard