NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin utilized an early second half run and some hot shooting to get past Lamar University, 102-72, Saturday afternoon in Nacogdoches. The loss drops LU to 3-11 on the season, and 1-4 in Southland Conference play.
The Cardinals finished the day shooting better than 42 percent from the field, but struggled to find much offense from long range converting just 2-of-7 (.286) three-pointers. Big Red finished the night 16-of-23 (.696) from the free throw line with all but two of those attempts coming in the first half.
The Lumberjacks started hot and never really cooled off shooting 37-fo-62 (.597) from the floor, including nine three-pointers. SFA converted all 19 of their attempts from the throw line. The 'Jacks won the battle on the boards but only by two, 34-32.
Junior Quinlan Bennett and freshman Kasen Harrison scored a team-high 12 points, while freshman David Muoka made a return from injury to score nine points and pull down a game-high 13 rebounds. The Lumberjacks were led by 21 points from Cameron Johnson.
SFA converted its first five attempts, but couldn't shake the Cardinals as Big Red knocked down three of its first five (LU also connected on the first possession of the game, but it was wiped off the board due to an offensive foul). The Lumberjacks took an early seven-point lead before LU responded with consecutive baskets to trim the lead down to a single possession, 11-8.
The Cardinals trailed by a single point, 15-14, following an Avery Sullivan steal and layup, but SFA responded with a 9-0 run to take a 10-point lead. Kopp halted the run with a three-pointer at the 9:25 mark, but the home team would eventually build their advantage to as many as 17 points in the opening half. Despite SFA's continued hot shooting, the Cardinals didn't allow their hosts to run and hide.
After Nigel Hawkins hit a three to give the 'Jacks their biggest lead of the half, LU responded with a Kopp three-pointer and a Bennett steal and layup to get the deficit back to 13 points. The Red and White got the score back within nine points before SFA took a 12-point lead into the locker room.
The Cardinals finished the opening 20 minutes of action converting 17-of-36 (.472) from the field, but couldn't quite keep pace with their hosts who closed the half with a 17-of-29 (.586) performance, including 5-of-9 from three-point range. The Lumberjacks also converted all 10 of their free throw attempts, while LU got to the line just twice in the opening half of play.
Unfortunately, the Lumberjacks came out in the second half similarly to how they started the first. SFA hit seven of their first 10 attempts to build a 19-point lead. The Cardinals scored the next five points to trim the deficit down to 14, but the 'Jacks never cooled off shooting 60 percent in the game's closing 20 minutes preventing LU from making a run late in the contest.
The Cardinals will be back in action Saturday, Jan. 30, when they return home to host McNeese. The game against the Cowboys will tip off at 4:30 p.m. from the Montagne Center. It will be broadcast live on Newstalk 560 KLVI, and streamed live on ESPN+.
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