It was quite the homecoming for Stephen F. Austin senior guard John Comeaux Saturday evening, as he returned to Beaumont, scoring 18 points, adding four steals, two assists and three rebounds as he led the front-running Lumberjacks to a 70-62 Southland Conference win over Lamar in the Montagne Center.
After trailing in the first half and again in the second period, the ’Jacks led 59-58 with 4:37 remaining, then went on an 11-1 run over a span of 3:59 to open the floodgates and a 70-59 lead with 38 seconds remaining, before coasting to the final.
The win, SFA’s eighth in 10 games road this season, kept the ’Jacks (17-3, 8-1 SLC) unbeaten on the road (6-0) in Southland action and one-half game ahead of Nichols (14-7, 8-2 SLC) in the league standings. Nicholls defeated New Orleans, 77-72, on the road on Saturday.
Comeaux, who attended Ozen High School and went to college at Port Arthur State College before transferring to SFA, put on a show for his hometown fans, hitting 7-of-11 from the field, including both three-point attempts, along with both free throws.
He led three Lumberjacks in double-figure scoring. Senior Kevon Harris added 15 points, five steals and six assists, while junior Roti Ware dropped in 12 points.
Junior Gavin Kensmil scored eight points and nine rebounds and freshman Calvin Solomon produced a game-high 11 boards, while scoring four points.
Lamar (10-11, 4-6 SLC) was led in scoring by Davion Buster, who poured in 17 points, including 4-of-9 from behind the three-point arc. V.J. Holmes and Avery Sullivan both dumped in 12 points, while Anderson Kopp came off the Cardinal bench to score 10.
The Lumberjacks, who pride themselves on forcing teams to turn the ball over, forced 25 Cardinal turnovers, turning them into 19 points. SFA also slowed the LU attack in the second half, allowing only seven field goals and a 41.2% (7-of-17) percentile, after the Cards hit 52.1% (12-of-23) in the first half and took a 32-31 lead into the locker room at the break.
SFA suffered 18 turnovers in the game and warmed from a 41.4% (12-of-29) percentile in field goal shooting in the first half to a 48% (12-of-25) over the final 20 minutes. The ’Jacks outscored Lamar 39-30 in the final 20 minutes.
As they have most of the season, the Lumberjacks led in the rebounding department, posting 32 boards, compared to only 25 for the Cardinals. The biggest difference was on the offensive boards, where SFA held a 14-5 advantage. The ’Jacks also held a 20-8 advantage in second-chance points.
The Cards got off to a fast start to begin the first half, building an eight-point lead (17-9) with 11:08 on the clock. The Lumberjacks still trailed 22-15 with 6:06 left, but went on a 10-3 from that point to tie the score at 25-25 with 3:13 remaining in the period.
Lamar was able to move back out in front in the early moments of the second half, building a 45-38 lead with 14:25 remaining.
Still trailing by six (47-41) with 12:54 on the clock, the ’Jacks began building momentum with a 14-7 run over a span of 5:02, grabbing a 55-54 lead with 7:52 left. SFA never trailed from that point, building the lead to as much as 11 during the final minute.
SFA will return home Wednesday, hosting Abilene Christian at 7:30 p.m.