MONROE, La.(Press Release) - A classic tale of two halves scenario played itself out at Fant-Ewing Coliseum on Monday night in a non-conference clash between Stephen F. Austin and Louisiana-Monroe. Slowed by a difficult first half, however, the ‘Jacks came up short at the end of the night.
Down by as many as 20 points early in the final frame, the ‘Jacks received a massive boost from junior Ivan Canete, who scored 23 of his game and career-high 28 points in the final 20 minutes, but ULM held the hard-charging ‘Jacks at bay by hitting seven of its eight free throw attempts in the final minute to send SFA to a 77-72 loss.
Canete went 10-for-15 from the field and hit six of his eight tries from three-point range in the ‘Jacks’ second road setback of the season. The junior’s big night was amplified further with team-highs in both rebounds (six) and assists (five) as well as a block and two steals in 36 minutes of action.
SFA shot 43.1-percent from the field and 42.9-percent (12-of-28) from three-point distance, but the Warhawks used a 49.2-percent shooting touch - as well as 21 points off of 18 Lumberjack turnovers - to claim their second win of 2016-17.
Canete and senior Dallas Cameron - who finished with a career-best 15 points - provided a large portion of the jolt SFA required in the final stanza. That duo combined to produce 33 of the ‘Jacks’ 45 second-half points and helped the visitors outscore ULM by 13 during that span.
Making their first appearance inside Fant-Ewing Coliseum since 2010, the ‘Jacks received the first of two first-half three-pointers from TJ Holyfield 1:44 into the game. That long-range hit served as the response to a deep ball from the Warhawks’ Nick Coppola to knot the score at 3-3.
Owners of the nation’s 13th-longest active home court winning streak, the Warhawks showed little to no interest in seeing that stretch of triumphs come to an end. Coppola fueled ULM’s attack throughout the opening stanza by pumping in 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, and 11 first-half turnovers by SFA only made the ‘Jacks’ comeback attempt more difficult.
The Warhawks turned those turnovers into 16 points and outscored the visiting ‘Jacks 24-6 in the paint through the first 20 minutes of action. One of the ‘Jacks’ singular sources of offensive nourishment came in the form of junior Josh Huntley. After not putting in a point through his first three games in an SFA uniform, the Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., product pumped in eight by hitting all four of his field goal attempts in the opening half.
It was Huntley’s array of low post moves which allowed the ‘Jacks to stay within shouting distance, but directly following his final bucket that trimmed ULM’s lead to 16-11 with 12:40 to go the Warhawks opened things up.
A three-pointer from Coppola started a 7-2 run by the home team that pushed the ‘Jacks’ deficit to 25-13 with 8:27 to go in the half. Holyfield made it a single-digit margin for the final time in the half with another triple before ULM scored nine unanswered to take a 34-16 lead.
Although the ‘Jacks struck first in the second half with a free throw make by Huntley, the Warhawks used a three-point play from Marcus Washington to take a seemingly insurmountable 51-31 lead with 16:19 left.
That’s when Canete came to the rescue.
Over the ensuing 12:19, the junior drilled five three-pointers and captained a 29-14 Lumberjack surge that trimmed the Warhawks’ once-mammoth edge to 65-60 with 3:48 remaining. Regrettably, ULM recovered and increased its lead to double-digits once again by scoring five unanswered points during its next pair of possessions.
Canete and Cameron each swished a long ball in the final minute, but the Warhawks’ accuracy at the free throw line (7-for-8) allowed the home team to secure the win.
Coppola put in just two more points in the second half for ULM, finishing with a team-high 19 in a balanced offensive showing by the Warhawks. Marvin Jean-Pierre slung in 16 markers and three other ULM players racked up 10 points apiece.
The road ahead for the ‘Jacks takes them to Fayetteville, Ark., for their second matchup with an SEC institution this season. On Thursday night inside the walls of Bud Walton Arena, SFA will cross paths with Arkansas for the fifth time in program history. That non-conference fracas is scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m. and will be televised nationally on the SEC Network.