The Stephen F. Austin basketball teams will look to end the regular season on a high note and head into the conference tournament as both teams take on rival Sam Houston State in The Sawmill on Saturday.
The Lumberjacks locked up the regular season Southland Conference Championship against Lamar with a 95-77 win last Saturday, and claimed a crucial road victory against third-place Abilene Christian, 77-72, on Tuesday. The Lumberjacks have already secured the top-seed in the conference tournament, including a double-bye and automatic placement in the semi-finals on Friday, March 13.
The accomplishments continued to pile up for the ’Jacks as of late, claiming 47 votes in the AP Top 25, placing them in 28th place. Butler and UCLA with 68 and 54 votes, respectively, were the only teams standing between SFA and the coveted 25th spot.
The Ladyjacks currently sit at a tie for second place in the conference with Abilene Christian after a 88-62 loss to the Lady Wildcats on Tuesday. The loss bumped them from the top spot and one game ahead of the Lady Bearkats heading into the matchup on Saturday.
The Ladyjacks will begin Saturday’s festivities at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by the Lumberjacks at 4:30 p.m. Both games will be broadcasted on ESPN3 as well as Q107.7.
Here’s what’s in store for both teams:
The Ladyjacks (22-6, 15-4 SLC) will look to fend off the Lady Bearkats (19-9, 14-5 SLC) and fight for a top-two finish to the season to ensure a double-bye (first place finish) or a single bye (second seed) in the conference tournament, which beings on Thursday, March 12 in Katy.
Sam Houston ranks as the second-best scoring attack in the conference with 76.6 points per game, seven more points than third-ranked SFA with 69.6 points per game. That scoring was on display in the previous matchup between the two as the Lady Bearkats took the win, 63-55, on Feb. 1.
The Lady Bearkats score by committee with four players averaging double digits. Amber Leggett leads the team with 15.5 points per game, followed by. Jaylonn Walker and Faith Cook with 13.1 and 10.6 points per game, respectively. Jenniffer Oramas also averages 10.6 points per game.
SFA will rely heavily on Stephanie Visscher and Aiyana Johnson who both lead the team with just over 13 points per game. Aiyana Johnson has also made her presence felt on the battle of the boards, bringing in 8.2 rebounds per game.
The Ladyjacks are an impressive 13-1 at home this season, including a spotless 9-0 at home against conference opponents.
This time last year, the Lumberjacks were looking for every potential scenario to sneak into the final spot of the Southland Conference tournament before eventually missing the event altogether. This year, though, there is no worry for the ’Jacks.
The Lumberjacks (27-3, 18-1 SLC) are riding a healthy 14-game winning streak, the same number of wins they had in the entire 2018-19 season. They will take that winning form against a Sam Houston (18-12, 11-8 SLC) team that has fallen as of late, losing two-straight to Abilene Christian and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
SFA may have their hands full with a usually potent Bearkat offense that ranks fourth in the conference with an average of 78.7 points per game. Scoring is led by Zach Nutall and Kai Mitchell with 15.6 and 14.3 points per game, respectively.
Defensively, the Bearkats sit sixth in the conference by allowing opponents to 72.6 points per game.
It’s no surprise that SFA boasts a scoring margin of 13.7 to lead the conference. The ’Jacks are ranked the best scoring team in the conference with 81 points per game, and second defensively by allowing 67.3 points per game. Scoring is led by the fourth-best scorer in SFA history Kevon Harris with 17.8 points per game, followed by Gavin Kensmil and Cameron Johnson with 11.6 and 11.3 points per game, respectively.