SFA Tops Nicholls in Conference Opener
Jan. 4, 2007
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Sophomore center Matt Kingsley scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks to a 61-55 win over Nicholls State Thursday in the William R. Johnson Coliseum. Despite breaking a run of three straight games without missing a free throw, Kingsley knocked down 10 of his 12 chances at the line, including a 6-for-6 effort in the second half that helped SFA hold on down the stretch.
With the win, the Lumberjacks improve to 8-5 on the year and 1-0 in Southland Conference play. SFA is now 4-3 in SLC openers under head coach Danny Kaspar. Nicholls State fell to 1-14.
The Lumberjacks led by as many as seven points in the first half, but a 35-percent effort from the floor helped the Colonels hang around. Nicholls State went ahead by four points (25-21) when leading scorer Stefan Blaszczynski tipped in his own miss, then Justin Payne converted a steal on the ensuing SFA possession into a fast break layup.
SFA regained the lead at the one-minute mark when junior guard Gerald Fonzie nailed his second 3-pointer in less than two minutes to put the Lumberjacks ahead, 28-25. Nicholls' James Dixon hit a pair of free throws with half a minute left to send the teams to halftime with SFA ahead by one, 28-27.
SFA found better shots in the second period and converted on 47.8 percent of them. The Lumberjacks got hot early and led by as many as eight points. But that would be their biggest lead of the night, as they couldn't shake Nicholls off. The Colonels shot just 23 percent from the floor after halftime but converted 13 out of 16 opportunities at the foul line to stay in the game.
The Lumberjacks finished at 41.2 percent from the field and held Nicholls to 29.4 percent. Blaszczynski, who averaged 20.3 points per game coming into the contest, was held to 14 points before he fouled out with 1:19 left in the game. The Australia native led all players with 10 rebounds. Overall, rebounding was even at 37 boards apiece.
The Lumberjacks will be back in action Saturday when they wrap up their longest home stand of the season by hosting Southeastern Louisiana. The game is set for a 6 p.m. start from the William R. Johnson Coliseum.
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