From SFA Athletics
By his own admission, Stephen F. Austin men's basketball senior Ty Charles could perform almost no basketball-related activities while sitting out a total of 16 games throughout this season and the last with a various number of injuries.
One thing Charles was able to work on during those lengthy days of rehab was his jump shot and on Wednesday night - much to the delight of the SFA fans in attendance - the senior showed off the fruits of his labor.
Exploding for a career-high 31 points on the strength of a 7-of-11 showing from three-point range, Charles helped the 'Jacks (18-4, 7-2 Southland) hammer Houston Baptist 102-82 and climb up into a tie for second place in the Southland Conference standings.
For the second time in their last three meetings with the Huskies (5-18, 1-9 Southland), the 'Jacks eclipsed the century mark and this time it came by way of a night in which the hosts drilled 54.4-percent (37-of-68) of their field goals and finished with 24 assists.
The aforementioned crisp ball movement helped SFA unload on Houston Baptist from long range. Between Charles and fellow senior Ivan Canete (17 points), all 12 of the 'Jacks' long-range baskets throughout the tilt were represented. SFA would need all of those points, too, in order to offset a season-high 24 turnovers.
"When you think about it, it's incredible that we were able to score 102 points in a game where we threw the ball away 24 times," remarked SFA head coach Kyle Keller. "By no means were we as sharp as we needed to be tonight, and we have plenty of things to work on in order to get to the level where we need to be."
"I'm happy that we won and happy that we moved the ball well and kept feeding Ty, but we have to take care of the basketball."
Minus Kevon Harris, the 'Jacks turned to their bench early and often and one of the biggest - literally and figuratively - sparks SFA received from their reserves came from junior Jovan Grujic. The 7'0 Serbian collected a game and career-high nine rebounds to go along with four points much to the delight of the SFA faithful in attendance.
Although SFA enjoyed a strong first-half performance from the field (20-of-40, 50-percent), it had to contend with a Houston Baptist squad that was intent on putting an end to a 13-game losing streak in true road games. The Huskies, mainly in the form of Jalon Gates and Ian Dubose, had pumped in an impressive 70.6-percent of their shots with 7:33 remaining in the frame and posted a 36-33 lead despite the best efforts of Charles and Ivan Canete.
Finally, over the final 6:29 of the half, the 'Jacks were finally able to douse the hot-shooting Huskies with a burst of high-pressure defense. During that span, Houston Baptist drilled just a single field goal and was forced to watch an effective SFA offense end the frame on a 12-4 run.
Charles and TJ Holyfield, who notched a total of 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting, were the driving forces of the surge, combining to produce 10 of the 'Jacks' 12 points. Once the dust had settled following that run, SFA enjoyed a 51-40 lead as it headed to the locker room at halftime.
At no point through the final 20 minutes of action did SFA's lead sink below 13 points and by using a 13-4 run through the opening 4:50 of the frame the 'Jacks took their first of four 20-point leads. Ending the run with six straight points (four free throws and a fast-break slam) was sophomore Nathan Bain.
Houston Baptist was able to trim the 'Jacks' lead down to 13 by employing a 10-4 run that made matters 68-55 with 10:55 left, but Shannon Bogues quickly ended the Huskies' ideas of a comeback with a fast-break slam. That dunk was followed up by consecutive three-pointers from Canete and Charles that effectively slammed the door on Houston Baptist.
David Caraher - perhaps the Southland Conference Freshman of the Year - submitted an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double in defeat for Houston Baptist. Caraher also got a good deal of help from Ian Dubose and Jalon Gates who finished with 23 and 21 respectively.
For the second-straight game, Charles finished one rebound shy of a double-double and Leon Gilmore III rounded out the primary quartet of SFA scorers by adding 13. Saturday morning, the 'Jacks are scheduled to hit the road for a short journey south to Beaumont, Texas, where they will face off against Lamar. Tip-off inside the Montagne Center is slated for 4:30 p.m. and the game will be televised nationwide on ESPN3 and the ESPN app.