Stephen F. Austin didn't want to leave its basketball fate up to the NCAA selection committee. A Southland Conference tournament title is what the Lumberjacks wanted, and that's what they got Saturday night in winning their 28th straight game. Sparked by tournament MVP Thomas Walkup, SFA defeated Sam Houston State 68-49 at the Merrell Center and earned the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. "The opportunity was available," SFA guard Desmond Haymon said. "We took it and rolled." SFA (31-2) breezed through the conference this season to go 18-0 but struggled to put the Bearkats away until a 21-5 second-half run over an 11-minute stretch. "That was the difference in the ballgame," Lumberjacks coach Brad Underwood said. "That broke it open. We altered shots at the rim, and we did it without fouling." SFA played like an NCAA-Tournament-worthy team, especially in the second half with the Lumberjacks constantly finding the open man for good looks at the basket. SFA led by as many as 21 points and outscored Sam Houston 35-21 in the second half. On a night when the Lumberjacks didn't have to rely on Haymon's scoring, they showed why they're the best in the Southland. "They're having a season for the ages," said Sam Houston coach Jason Hooten.
Stephen F. Austin punches ticket to NCAA Tournament
Houston Chronicle | Mar 16