March 9, 2013

Men's Basketball Falls in Season Finale, 58-49, to SFA

NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Stephen F. Austin used a 10-0 second-half run to pull ahead in a tight affair, as the Lumberjacks knocked off the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team 58-49 on Saturday night at Johnson Coliseum. The game, which featured eight ties and 10 lead changes, was the season finale for the Islanders.

Will Nelson led the Islanders with 15 points and seven rebounds, going 5-for-11 from the field in the contest. Johnathan Jordan added 15 points and eight assists, finishing the year with a school-record 155 dimes. Nate Maxey also capped off a record season, blocking four shots to finish the year with a new Islanders mark with 57 blocks.

Taylor Smith capped off the regular season with a double-double, posting 17 points and snaring 12 boards in his final game at Johnson Coliseum. Desmond Haymon went 4-for-8 from downtown for 16 points, while senior Antonio Bostic added 14 points in the win, which clinched an outright Southland Regular-Season Championship for SFA.

The Lumberjacks opened the game with a 6-2 lead, as Smith and Hal Bateman combined for all six points for the home squad. But the Islanders came right back with seven points in a row, four by Zane Knowles and the remainder on a triple by Nelson to make it 9-6. From there, the two teams traded baskets to a 15-12 score, then three straight points at the free-throw line helped SFA knot the score 15-15 with 9:07 remaining.

The Jacks pushed back ahead on an alley-oop to Smith, but the Islanders responded with an alley-oop of their own, this one from Jordan to Maxey, to tie the score once again. From there until halftime, neither team had a lead of more than one possession, with a Jordan three-point play at the 1:19 mark putting the Islanders ahead by one. The sophomore added two more points at the line to push the lead to three in the final minute of the half, but SFA got two back on a layup from Thomas Walkup, then gained the lead at the half when Haymon pushed the tempo off a defensive rebound and was fouled, hitting two free throws to send it to half with the Jacks up 30-29.

The back-and-forth continued out of the half, with SFA pushing the lead to 33-31. A three from Hameed Ali gave the Islanders the lead back at 34-33, as the Islanders used a 6-1 run to go up 37-34. The Lumberjacks then got a big three from Bostic to tie the score for the eighth and final time of the night, following it with a second triple to push the advantage to 40-37. The Islanders got two back to trim the deficit to 40-39 on a floater by Jordan.

But that's when SFA commenced its decisive run, combining strong defense with conversions on outside shots to open up their largest lead of the night at 50-39. Bostic delivered a pair of threes, while the other four points came from fellow senior Smith. The Lumberjacks were able to lock down defensively over the closing minutes, and held on for the 58-49 victory.

The Islanders close their season at 6-23 overall and 5-13 in conference, but played their best basketball at the end of the season. A&M – Corpus Christi went 4-4 over its last eight conference games of the season, with all four losses coming to the league's top three teams.

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