CORPUS CHRISTI – In a battle for first place in the Southland Conference, Stephen F. Austin had a red-hot night from the field, shooting 50 percent from the field, to knock off the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team 80-70 on Saturday night. The Lumberjacks improved to 4-0 in the league, while the Islanders are now 3-1.
Thomas Walkup led the way with 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Jacks, who were victorious for the 12th straight contest. Deshaunt Walker (14), Tanner Clayton (13) and Nikola Gajic (11) also finished in double figures for SFA. The Lumberjacks outrebounded the Islanders 34-24 in the contest.
John Jordan scored 24 points and added seven assists and two steals in a losing effort for A&M-Corpus Christi. Jake Kocher had a strong game as well, scoring 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting in 18 minutes of work.
The teams went back-and-forth early on, battling to an 8-8 score after Rashawn Thomas converted a layup at 15:05. But SFA responded with a three-pointer for Walkup, and saw that momentum springboard them to a 10-0 run and an 18-8 lead. A layup by Clayton after an airball by Gajic finished off the rally.
Joy Williamson snapped the run with a layup, then Kocher followed with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to five. Kocher added a steal and fast-break layup at the 8:07 mark to cap off a 6-2 run that made it 20-16. But SFA got back-to-back buckets, the second a three by Walker, to push the lead to 9. The lead fluctuated between seven and 11 the rest of the way, with the Islanders scoring the last three points for a 35-27 halftime deficit.
The offensive glass was the difference in the first half, as the Lumberjacks grabbed 11 offensive boards to hold a 20-9 lead on the glass in the opening stanza. Each team shot 50 percent from the field and had 18 points in the paint before the break.
Out of the break, the Islanders cut it to six on a pair of free throws for Jeff Beverly, but SFA came right back with a 5-1 run to push the advantage back to 11. Brandon Pye responded with a three, and then a Jordan free throw cut it to seven, but the Lumberjacks responded with four straight points of their own once again. This trend continued to a 51-42 SFA advantage at the 12:45 mark.
The Jacks then saw a pivotal call go their way, as Walker encountered heavy contact with Jelani Currie, and it was called a basket and a foul to push the lead to 12. SFA continued its strong offensive play to push the lead all the way to 17 on Jacob Parker's three from the left wing.
For every Islanders rally, SFA had an answer, using continued offensive efficiency to maintain a 66-51 lead on Clayton's layup at 5:11. The home squad scored four straight points to cut it to 11, but couldn't get over the hump, and SFA was able to convert its free throws down the stretch to post the 10-point victory.
The Islanders hit the road next, as they travel to McNeese State (Thursday) and Nicholls (Saturday) for their second road trip of the season. Thursday's matchup tips at 7:30 p.m. Yannis Koutroupis will have the call on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX starting at 7:15 with the pregame show.
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