From SFA Athletics
NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release) – Heading into Tuesday night’s contest with Central Arkansas, Stephen F. Austin men’s basketball senior Thomas Walkup had yet to post a double-digit scoring effort when doing battle with a Southland Conference opponent this season.
By the time the final horn echoed through William R. Johnson Coliseum, the Pasadena, Texas, product had accumulated exactly half of UCA’s total offensive output.
Triggered by a season-high 32-point performance from Walkup, the ‘Jacks wore down a feisty Central Arkansas squad and emerged with an 85-64 win to improve to 10-5 and 3-0 in SLC games.
The 32-point outburst from the final-year man was two shy of his career-best 34 and he split his damage with a 10-of-13 effort from the field as well as an 11-of-14 night at the charity stripe. Facilitation of the ‘Jacks offense was another item on Walkup’s in-game checklist as he wrapped up his night with a game-high four assists.
The wire-to-wire SFA victory – their 15th in 15 all-time meetings with the Bears – also saw Ty Charles and Clide Geffrard put in 10 points apiece. Charles, a sophomore out of Kennedale, Texas, stuffed the stat sheet further with three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a career-high three blockd shots – exactly one-half of the ‘Jacks team total (six).
Walkup and fellow final-year man Demetrious Floyd joined forces to push the ‘Jacks out to a 9-0 lead through the first 3:56 of the tilt. A double-digit lead, though, was never established by the hosts through the first 20 minutes of action as the Bears were in rabid pursuit of their first back-to-back Southland Conference wins since the 2013-14 season.
Jordan Howard, the reigning SLC Freshman of the Year and Derreck Brooks splashed consecutive long balls in the span of 26 seconds to whittle SFA’s lead down to 20-18 with 7:45 remaining in the initial stanza.
Until Dallas Cameron’s energizing downtown hit to conclude the opening frame, the ‘Jacks edge never rose above seven points, but dunks from Geffrard and Charles put a charge into the pro-‘Jack congregation and made it a 28-22 score in favor of the hosts with 4:26 left in the first.
The first five minutes of the last half were once again won handily by the ‘Jacks, allowing them to coast to victory. Trey Pinkney drilled a corner triple on SFA’s first possession of that frame to spark a 22-7 run over the first 6:27 of the half that put the game out of reach for good.
Walkup scored nine points in that stretch, the last four of which came from the free throw line after UCA head coach Russ Pennell was ejected from the game after being hit with a pair of technical fouls.
Staked to that 59-36 edge with 13:33 to go, the ‘Jacks let their advantage dip below 20 points just once. It bulged to as many as 28 (81-53) after Jovan Grujic sanka short jumper with 4:55 left.
Howard finished with 19 points for UCA while Brooks submitted a 16-point, 13-rebound double-double for the Bears. SFA hit 50-percent (29-of-58) of its field goals and made 22 of their 33 tries at the free throw line. UCA was limited to a 3-of-7 (42.9-percent) showing from the foul stripe.
Fresh off a 15-point win over Northwestern State, Abilene Christian will head south to Nacogdoches and serve as the next squad to take on the ‘Jacks. Tip-off between SFA and the Wildcats is set for 6:00 p.m. on Saturday evening.
Notes: As a direct result of his big night, Walkup moved into fourth place on SFA’s DI-era scoring chart with 1,365 career points…the senior also connected on his 500th career field goal (a layup with 12:18 to go in the first half) to become just the third SFA player in the program’s DI history to reach that mark…by way of 11 made free throws, Walkup additionally elevated himself to fourth in SFA’s DI history in career free throws made (316).