New group of ‘Jacks bring excitement to season opening win

Lumberjacks cruise in opener

From SFA Athletics

Two things were present for the SFA men's basketball team in its 2019-20 season opener that were frequently missing during its contests from one year ago.

Depth and ball distribution. As a result, the 'Jacks were able to start their latest season off on the right foot.

In the final season-opening game of his collegiate career, senior Kevon Harris went for a team-high 18 points, junior Gavin Kensmil made his Lumberjack debut with a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double and SFA received scoring contributions from 10 of 12 players who saw the floor to pound LeTourneau, 89-70, in its season opener.

Hoping to lay claim to a big-time exhibition win, LeTourneau jumped out to a trio of five-point leads in the early stages of the game before the new-look 'Jacks - who saw nine players get their first taste of SFA basketball - put the Yellowjackets away.

Coach Kyle Keller, Gavin Kensmil and Kevon Harris post game

FIRST HALF• Led by their Curry-esque guard Nate West, LeTourneau showed little fear in facing off against an NCAA Division I adversary. The first of five three-pointers on the night from West capped a 5-0 run by the visitors to open the game while his second made LeTourneau's lead 16-11 5:50 into things. • Following that long ball from West, the 'Jacks put the clamps on LeTourneau and began to assert themselves on offense. Senior John Comeaux had a hand in helping the home team start its game-changing 17-2 run by dishing to Roti Ware for a mid-range job and to fellow senior Nathan Bain for a triple that tied the score. • A coast-to-coast layup by Comeaux with 12:30 to go handed SFA the lead for the first time (18-16) and the 'Jacks never relinquished control from there. Harris ended the surge with a short jumper followed up with one of his two downtown splashes to put SFA up 28-18 with 9:14 left in the half. • Through the last 10:37 of the half, LeTourneau sank just three field goals - one of them being half-court heave from West that hit nothing but net and cut SFA's lead to 50-32 at the break. • West's extra long-distance splashdown Came after Kensmil got his own rebound and hiked the hosts' edge to 50-29 with a put-back layup.

SECOND HALF• Right after Ware made it a 20-point margin for SFA again with a turnaround jumper to begin the scoring in the second half, LeTourneau went to West to cut into the lead. • The guard scored the final six points during the Yellowjackets' 8-0 run that pulled them within 12, 52-40, just 1:51 into the deciding frame. • Going basket-for-basket for the Yellowjackets, SFA received a smooth jumper from David Kachelries after a LeTourneau dunk to make SFA's lead 56-42, but West was not finished. He scored the next 10 for his squad on an array of long-distance shots, free throws and short jumpers to cut SFA's once comfortable lead all the way down to 10, 62-52. • An authoritative dunk from Harris helped SFA embark on a 12-4 run to make its lead a little more comfortable. Cameron Johnson put the finishing touches on that scoring sure with a three-pointer to push his team's advantage to 74-56 with 8:56 to go.• Brick Fosnight banked in a three-pointer which capped LeTourneau's last push and shrank SFA's edge to 74-62. From there, the hosts put the game away with a 13-1 run which featured a pair of buckets from Kensmil as well as a vicious one-handed put-back slam from Sama'Zha Hart.

KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE• In all, four 'Jacks finished in double-digits during SFA's third-consecutive season-opening victory. Joining Harris and Kensmil with 10 or more point were Johnson (11) and Hart (10) who helped bolster a strong 40-point effort from the 'Jacks' bench brigade. • SFA finished with a massive 53-31 (+22) edge on the glass as Harris (eight) and freshman Calvin Solomon (eight) neared double-digits in the rebounding department. • West was, to put it mildly, a problem for the 'Jacks as the guard piled up a game-high 38 points on an efficient 8-of-16 (50-percent) shooting night. The Yellowjackets' leading scorer finished 17-of-18 from the foul line, too. • Outside of West, no other LeTourneau player posted double-digit points. SFA's NCAA Division III opponent did, however, get over one-third (35.7-percent) of its points from the foul line where it went 25-of-32 (78.1-percent) on the night.

COMING UP NEXT• Continuing their stretch of four consecutive home games to begin the season, SFA retakes the court inside William R. Johnson Coliseum Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. for its first showdown against an NCAA Division I opponent this season. The 'Jacks tangle with MEAC favorite North Carolina Central that day in a tilt which will be broadcast nationwide on ESPN3 and the ESPN app.