SFA basketball improves to 3-0 after beating LaTourneau

SFA basketball improves to 3-0 after beating LaTourneau

From SFA Athletics

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - One of the biggest early-season jaw-droppers on the Southland Conference men's basketball scene came courtesy of the Stephen F. Austin men's basketball team's Thursday night opponent - NCAA Division III member LeTourneau University.

Just four days before entering William R. Johnson Coliseum, the YellowJackets drilled Northwestern State by 15 points in an exhibition game between the two programs that went down in the record books as a loss for the Demons. With that fact in mind, the 'Jacks made doubly sure to put the clamps on LeTourneau to prevent SFA from suffering a similar embarrassing loss.

Boosted by a team shooting percentage of .581 (36-of-62) - the best in the Kyle Keller coaching era - and another monstrous outing from sophomore sensation Kevon Harris, the 'Jacks battered LeTourneau 91-68 and improved to 3-0 for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

Less than a week removed from establishing a new career high in scoring, Harris hit the reset button again by springing for a game-best 26 points on an 8-of-13 effort from the field. Among those field goal makes were four three-pointers - another career-best for the Ellenwood, Ga., product.

For the second time in as many nights, four 'Jacks enjoyed double-digits scoring efforts as TJ Holyfield (19), Shannon Bogues (15) and John Comeaux (12) joined Harris in double figures. The 12-point outing from Comeaux marked his first game of 10 or more points in an SFA uniform and both Holyfield and Harris corralled a game-high eight rebounds. 

Although LeTourneau held their own from the field by connecting on 46-percent (23-of-50) of its field goals, it was at a marked disadvantage in the rebounding department. SFA out-rebounded the YellowJackets 41-21 and turned 21 turnovers into 31 points.

Outside of a 2:30 stretch to begin the non-conference showdown, the 'Jacks never trailed and grabbed their first double-digit lead of the tilt when John Comeaux's layup with 12:24 to go in the first frame made matters 21-11.

As the opening half progressed, the 'Jacks' lead kept growing until it reached its peak at 16 following a Jovan Grujic layup which pushed the tally to 39-23 with 5:35 to go. Thanks to one of Harris' three-point hits with four ticks remaining in the half, the hosts carried a 48-34 lead into the locker room at the break.

Again, however, LeTourneau came out of the gates firing in the deciding frame. A 5-0 run by the visitors in the first 1:33 of the half trimmed the 'Jacks' lead to single digits, 48-39, before Holyfield scored five of the next six SFA point to push his crew's advantage back to double-digits.

In possession of a seemingly insurmountable 57-41 cushion after Comeaux connected on a free throw with 15:52 to go, the 'Jacks received one final scare from the YellowJackets before putting them away for good.

Seth Mattson drilled a pair of triples and Nate West added another as part of a 9-0 LeTourneau run that trimmed the 'Jacks' edge down to 57-50 with 14:37 left. Out of an SFA timeout, the 'Jacks recovered with a 7-0 run featuring an old-fashioned three-point play from Bogues that helped lift the home team's lead to double-digits the rest of the way.

Back-to-back fast-break scores from Comeaux - one a dunk and the other a layup - handed the hosts their first 20-point cushion of the night, 77-57, with 8:03 to go and SFA set matters in cruise control from there.

Aaron Augustin added six points for SFA while passing out a game-high six assists. Nate West finished with a team-high 13 points for LeTourneau and was one of four YellowJackets in double figures.

Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m., the 'Jacks wrap up their three-game home stand by taking on a second-straight NCAA Division III adversary. That opponent is Howard Payne and the weekend meeting between the two programs is the first time they have encountered one another on the basketball court since the 2012-13 season.