From SFA Athletics
NACOGDOCHES, TX (Press Release)- A monstrous performance by senior Thomas Walkup – this one of the 30-point, 10-rebound variety – for the second time in as many games allowed the Stephen F. Austin men’s basketball team to outpace a run-and-gun Northwestern State squad, 83-72, in William R. Johnson Coliseum on Monday night.
Arguably the most dynamic scorer in the Southland Conference, NSU’s Zeek Woodley struck for a team-high 25, and was one of four Demons who reached the finish line with 12 or more points to their credit. The ‘Jacks, though, used their tried and true method of deft ball movement, in-your-face defense and deluge of bench scoring in order to keep a trio of high-profile winning streaks alive and well.
Turning 23 NSU turnovers into 21 points and finishing with a 24-2 advantage in bench scoring pushed SFA’s mark to 17-5 overall, 10-0 in SLC play and hiked the nation’s sixth-longest home court winning streak to 25 games. Demetrious Floyd checked his shoot-first mentality at the door to a point, too. He did finish with 13, but registered new career bests with five rebounds and a game-high eight assists.
The winners of 10 straight games – a streak that’s the third-longest in the nation – SFA also received its usual dosage of Clide Geffrard off the bench as the senior sprung for 17 points. Geffrard’s 15th-straight game with 10 or more points assisted the ‘Jacks in snagging their nation-leading 16th consecutive conference win.
Forcing the ‘Jacks into a game that had a pace akin to a track and field meet, Northwestern State forced the issue continuously and kept the pressure on the ‘Jacks even when it looked like things were well in hand.
Embroiled in a back-and-forth affair early, the ‘Jacks gained their first slice of considerable distance by using a 13-2 surge midway through the first stanza to inflate a one-point edge to 12. Six of the points in that spree were scored by Walkup, who capped things off with a powerful two-handed rim rocker to make matters 33-21 with 6:35 left in the half.
Following Floyd’s third three-point splashdown of the half, the ‘Jacks owned a 36-23 edge, only to see it dwindle down to 10 by the time the halftime horn sounded.
More Walkup seemed to the only ingredient in the ‘Jacks recipe for victory, as the senior scored the first six points of the second half to give SFA a 49-33 edge over the Demons. Three separate times – the last one coming courtesy of a colossal put-back dunk by freshman Ishmael Lane – Northwestern State sliced SFA’s edge down to single digits.
Up 53-44 with 15:38 to go following the aforementioned slam, SFA proceeded to limit the visiting Demons to just six points over the next six-plus minutes and Geffrard began to play a good second fiddle to Walkup by slinging in seven of his markers through that span.
Providing the final score in that stretch with a layup off a smooth pass from Floyd, Geffrard and the rest of the ‘Jacks locked in the cruise control and coasted to the double-digit win.
By submitting his second-straight 30+ point, 10+ rebound double-double, Walkup etched his name atop the ‘Jacks all-time field goals made list and moved into second place in the program’s NCAA Division I history in scoring. Through his storied four-year career, Walkup has rattled in a grand total of 568 field goals, which make up the vast majority of his 1,523 career points.
A product of Pasadena, Texas, Walkup’s name is one of three in SFA’s history as a Division I program that have accounted for 1,500 points and 500 rebounds in a career. Matt Kingsley(2005-09) held the previous SFA program record for field goals made with 559.
Sabri Thompson (17), Lane (16) and Devonte Hall (12) were the other three primary producers of offense for NSU other than Woodley. SFA freshman TJ Holyfield conjured up a beastly defensive performance in the win, racking up a career-high five blocked shots to go along with six rebounds, three assists and four points.
Even though the game is scheduled to be played on the day before Valentine’s Day, there won’t be a lot of love lost when Texas A&M-Corpus Christi journeys six hours to William R. Johnson Coliseum to take on SFA in the ‘Jacks next tilt. Tip-off between SFA and the Islanders is set for 6 p.m. on Saturday evening. The game represents SFA’s Cram the Coliseum night, with free tickets being given away all this week.