From SFA Athletics
Men’s Basketball: SFA 61, ACU 60
Around the scrawls of the scouting report for Abilene Christian and written in green marker on the whiteboard in the SFA men’s basketball locker room prior to the showdown between the 'Jacks and Wildcats Wednesday night were three words.
Not dead yet.
After suffering a trio of narrow losses in Southland Conference action, the 'Jacks showed the rest of the league - and a rowdy gang of onlookers in attendance - how true those words are.
Senior Shannon Bogues played the role of hero once again capping a 20-point night with a go-ahead three-pointer with 3.6 seconds to go that lifted the 'Jacks to a thrilling 61-60 Southland Conference victory over Abilene Christian Wednesday night inside William R. Johnson Coliseum.
Trailing by seven points with 27 seconds remaining, SFA got back to its disruption-based defensive identity by flustering the Wildcats into a pair of turnovers and a free throw miss. That defense, coupled with a timely 8-0 run on offense, shocked the Wildcats and gave the 'Jacks the shot in the arm they needed after a string of tough league losses earlier in the year.
FIRST HALF• Bogues handed the 'Jacks their lone lead of the first half by starting the game with a pair of free throw makes. The Wildcats' offense, however, operated smoothly from the start. • B.J. Maxwell knocked down the first of Abilene Christian's five first-half three pointers directly following Bogues' free throw makes and that long range hit started an 18-5 surge that spanned nearly eight minutes. • Through the first 12:46 of action, SFA connected on just three field goals. Thanks to some strong effort on the defensive end of the floor, however, the 'Jacks managed to stay within seven points of the Southland's leader in total wins. • Hayden Farquhar did his best to try and put the Wildcats in front by a substantial margin in the frame. ACU's reserve big man put in 14 points during the stanza and handed the visitors their largest lead, 29-20, by canning a mid-range jumper with 1:47 left in the half. • Kevon Harris scored the last five points of the half for the 'Jacks with a three-point play and another driving layup, but Farquhar beat the halftime horn with a layup that put the home team at a 33-25 disadvantage. • ACU put up a shooting split of .519/.500/.000 in the frame while SFA went .360/.300/.800.
SECOND HALF• SFA began blazing a comeback trail almost immediately once the final frame started, going on a 10-0 run through the opening 4:41 of the stanza. Fitzgerald and Harris accounted for all of the points during that SFA surge and Harris capped it with a three-point make that made matters 35-33 SFA. • That lead was the 'Jacks' first since Bogues' pair of free throws in the opening minute gave the hosts a 2-0 edge. • Unfortunately, the lead did not last long. Joe Pleasant scored three points during a 5-0 Abilene Christian run which allowed the visitors to remain in the lead until the closing seconds. • With 8:57 left, Payten Ricks - the Southland's leader in three-point field goal percentage and total steals - converted a pair of free throws that handed the Wildcats their largest lead of the game, 52-43. • Twice SFA pulled within three points before the miracle finish. Fitzgerald helped his squad do so for the second time by splashing a pair of free throws with 3:31 left that trimmed the Wildcats' edge to 56-53. • All hope seemed lost as a layup by Jaylen Franklin with 3:01 left preceded two more free throw makes by Ricks with 46 seconds to go which put the visitors ahead 60-53. Fortunately, SFA played with just enough desperation to give its home crowd something to cheer about. • The comeback started innocently enough when Fitzgerald split a pair at the foul line with 26 seconds left. On the ensuing Abilene Christian possession, John Comeaux posted the last of his game-high four steals and fed Harris for a two-handed slam that trimmed the Wildcats' lead to four. • Trailing 60-56, Comeaux and Harris double-teamed Ricks on the ensuing inbounds pass and forced another turnover. Bogues slithered his way inside and made it a two-point game with a layup. • With 12 seconds left, Ricks bricked the front end of a one-and-one, paving the way for Bogues' game-winning three-pointer. Ricks also misfired on the Wildcats' game-winning try from downtown at the horn.
KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE• Harris put the ‘Jacks on his back for most of the final frame and finished with a game-high 24 points to show for his efforts. With that 24-point outing, the junior now has 1,044 career points which is tied with Ty Charles for the 29th-most in program history.• Additionally, Harris went 3-of-5 from three-point range and 9-of-15 from the field overall. He now has 109 three-pointers in his career, one shy of 10th place in program history for career downtown makes. • Fitzgerald came up huge on a number of occasions for the ‘Jacks and finished with his second double-double of the season. The Atlanta, Ga., product contributed 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds to the cause to go along with two of the ‘Jacks’ 12 steals. Both of Fitzgerald’s career double-doubles have come at SFA against Southland Conference opposition. • Farquhar finished with a team-high 19 points for Abilene Christian while Franklin and Ricks put in 15 and 11 respectively in the Wildcats’ second Southland Conference setback of the season. • SFA forced a season-high 26 turnovers in the win and held a 20-15 edge in points off of turnovers. Four of the ‘Jacks’ last seven points were scored off of turnovers. • Heading into Wednesday night’s showdown, Abilene Christian led the Southland in three-point field goal shooting at a team rate of 41.3-percent on the year. The Wildcats fired at a clip of just 35.3-percent (6-of-17) in their fourth consecutive setback to SFA. • Abilene Christian saw its winless streak in Nacogdoches get extended to 37 years with the loss. The Wildcats’ last victory inside William R. Johnson Coliseum came on January 10, 1981, when both the 'Jacks and Wildcats were still NAIA institutions.
COMING UP NEXT• Hoping to close out the month of January with a third-straight Southland victory, the 'Jacks remain in Nacogdoches to host Southland Conference foe Central Arkansas next Wednesday (Jan. 31) night. Tip-off is slated for 6:30 p.m.
Women’s Basketaball: SFA 71, ACU 55
A pivotal fourth-quarter surge by the SFA women's basketball team turned a third-quarter deficit into a comfortable victory for the Ladyjacks on Wednesday night in Moody Coliseum, 71-55. SFA (15-3, 6-0 SLC) made up a small deficit and pulled away from the Wildcats thanks to a 25-point final quarter that begin with a 12-0 run over the opening four minutes of the stanza. Moving away from their reliable three-point shooting and attempting just eight treys on the night, the Ladyjacks used their height inside—namely the Johnson sisters—to bully the Wildcats to the tune of a 26-16 edge in points in the paint and a 20-28 effort at the charity stripe.
PERFORMANCES OF NOTE Imani Johnson led the way for SFA with 18 points and six rebounds in the contest, while younger sister Aiyana Johnson continued her strong play with an 11-point, eight rebound effort. Aaliyah Johnson came through with six big points for SFA in the middle of the contest, while Marissa Banfield (2-3 3-pt) and Heaven Hamling (seven points) combined for SFA’s three trifectas on the night.
HOW IT HAPPENED SFA got into early foul trouble in the first quarter and the Wildcats took advantage, opening up a 20-15 lead after the first quarter with most of SFA’s starting lineup forced to the bench. Undeterred, SFA turned to its bench unit to pick up the slack and the early results were promising, as the Ladyjacks opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run to retake the lead, 21-20 at the second quarter media timeout.
Aiyana Johnson carried over her torrid stretch of play from the past two games into this one, connecting on her first three field goal attempts to help SFA retake the lead. As the hosts encountered a sudden cold spell resulting in just six second-quarter points, the Ladyjacks continued to claw back into the contest on the strength of a solid 15-point quarter. A long two from Alyssa Mayfield would send the 'Jacks into the halftime break ahead by a 30-26 margin. Missing on both their three-point attempts in the half, the Ladyjacks instead focused their efforts down low, recording 12 points in the paint in the half.
THE WILDCATS RESPOND IN THE THIRD The Ladyjacks got to work early in the third quarter, extending the lead out to seven points on three separate occasions thanks to a pair of three-pointers from Marissa Banfield. ACU would respond by cutting the lead down to 41-40 with under three minutes left to play in the third with a run of their own. After Imani Johnson scored the final two of her seven third-quarter points, the Wildcats would take a 47-46 lead heading into the fourth off a Breanna Wright trey with four seconds to go in the quarter.
FOURTH QUARTER FORTE Facing a fourth-quarter deficit, the Ladyjacks responded in a big way, making a 9-0 run in the opening minutes of the final quarter by forcing the ball inside and earning trips to the line to take a 55-47 lead. The lead would extend to 58-47 on a Heaven Hamling three-ball with 6:42 left to play, prompting an ACU timeout to attempt to stop the bleeding. While the 'Cats would trim the lead back to single digits briefly out of the timeout, SFA went back ahead by double digits on consecutive baskets by Imani Johnson. ACU would get no closer for the remainder of the contest, as the 'Jacks extended the lead out to a game-high 19 points with half a minute left to play and won by a final score of 71-55.
OF NOTE • With some starters in foul trouble for SFA, the Ladyjacks turned to their bench unit, which responded with a 30-3 edge in scoring over their counterparts from ACU.• SFA’s 20 free throw makes marked the fifth time this season that the Ladyjacks have made 20 or more free throws in a game.• The Ladyjacks have now shot 44 percent or better in each of the past seven games (all wins). • SFA improves to 23-6 in the month of January while under the guidance of Mark Kellogg
. • SFA improves to 6-0 to begin SLC play for the third consecutive season.
Junior College: Coastal Bend 77, Angelina 74
From AC Athletics
Angelina College’s Deedy Gauno hit a three pointer with 13 seconds to play, and Riley Dewitz nailed one with one second left to get the Roadrunners to within a single point, but Coastal Bend’s Cougars were able to hit free throws and kill the clock to escape Shands Gymnasium with a 77-74 win on Wednesday.
AC trailed by 10 points with six minutes remaining in the game before putting together a 7-2 run in the final two minutes. The threes from Gauno and Dewitz weren’t enough to offset free throws from the Cougars’ Royce Hunter and Brian Payton in the waning moments.