The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks forced defending Southland Conference Tournament champion Abilene Christian into 27 turnovers, flipping them into 28 points on the offensive end, as SFA grabbed a one point lead at the break and never relinquished it in a 71-61 win inside William R. Johnson Coliseum.
The ’Jacks (18-3, 9-1 SLC) won for the tenth time (10-1) at home this season and remained alone in first place in the league standings, maintaining a one-game lead over Sam Houston State (15-6, 8-2 SLC), which blew past Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (9-13, 5-6 SLC), 80-61, and extending it’s lead over Nicholls (14-8, 8-3 SLC) to 1.5 games. The Colonels dropped an 80-74 decision at home against McNeese (12-9, 7-3 SLC).
In other Southland action Wednesday, Central Arkansas (6-15, 5-5 SLC) stopped Southeastern Louisiana (6-15, 3-7 SLC), 88-68, Northwestern State (9-11, 6-5 SLC) bumped New Orleans (6-16, 2-10 SLC), 82-74, and Incarnate Word (5-15, 2-7 SLC) popped Houston Baptist (1-17, 1-8 SLC), 84-82.
After the Wildcats hit 52.4% (11-of-21) from the field in the first half, the SFA defense picked up the pace, holding ACU to only 40.9% (9-of-22) in the final 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Lumberjacks warmed from 40.7% (11-of-27) from the field in the first period to a blistering 60% (15-of-25) in the second half.
Four Lumberjacks scored in double figures, led by senior Kevon Harris with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point territory. He also added four boards, four steals and two assists. Junior Cameron Johnson came off the SFA bench to hit double-figures with 16 points. He was also 7-of-10 from the field, while leading all rebounders with seven.
Junior guard Roti Ware was 5-of-6 from the field, pouring in 13 points, to go along with four assists and a pair of steals. Senior John Comeaux dropped in 11 points, including 2-of-3 behind the arc.
SFA’s bench outscored its counterparts from ACU 23-13.
The ’Jacks won the rebounding battle, 30-27, but the Wildcats posted five more second-chance points (11-6).
Coryon Mason paced Abilene Christian with 17 points, while Kolton Kohl threw in 12 and Joe Pleasant scored 10.
The Lumberjacks trailed for most of the first half, as ACU scrambled for loose balls and led by as many as five on four occasions.
But Ware’s free throw with :02 left in the half put SFA up, 32-31, at the break.
SFA trailed briefly in the final period, then built a 53-43 lead with 10:53 left and never let the lead slip below seven.
The ’Jacks will now travel to Huntsville Saturday to face Sam Houston at 5:30 p.m.