Nicholls State Nips 'Jacks At Horn
Jan. 10, 2008
THIBODAUX, La. - Ryan Bathie's tip-in as time expired gave Nicholls State a 58-57 win over the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks Thursday in the Southland Conference opener for both teams. The defeat is SFA's first in 11 games, snapping a 10-game win streak, and putting the breaks on the best start to a season for the Lumberjacks in 26 years.
SFA (12-2, 0-1 SLC) jumped out to a seven-point lead to open the overtime period after erasing a 10-point deficit with a furious rally at the end of regulation to extend the game. But SFA gave up three turnovers in the final 2:22, and the Colonels (6-10, 1-0 SLC) used an 8-0 run, capped by Bathie's buzzer-beater to collect the win.
SFA took a 32-30 lead to the locker room at halftime, but couldn't find the basket in the second period. The Lumberjacks were shooting under 20 percent from the field through the first 15 minutes of the second half and had scored just eight points. Nicholls, meanwhile, quietly pulled ahead until it had built a 10-point advantage at 50-40 with 2:14 to play.
That's when the Lumberjacks came alive. Junior forward Nick Shaw hit a layup with 2:02 left to cut the lead to eight. After sophomore point guard Eric Bell ripped off the first of three late-game steals at the other end, senior guard Gerald Fonzie hit a big 3-pointer to make it a five-point game, 50-45, with 1:51 left. The Colonels wrapped a pair of missed free throws around an SFA turnover, and junior forward Josh Alexander made the missed foul shots hurt when he stuck a 3-pointer to cut the lead to two points with 55 seconds left.
Bell again came up with a steal on the ensuing Nicholls possession, and it looked like Alexander had tied the score with a leaning, fast-break bucket in the lane, but he was whistled for a charge, giving the ball back to the Colonels. SFA again stiffened defensively, this time with Shaw recording the steal, and Bell drove to the basket for a game-tying layup with 15 seconds left, completing a 10-0 run by the 'Jacks. Bell was fouled on the play and went to the line for a chance to give SFA the lead with 15 seconds left, but his shot rimmed out, giving Nicholls one last chance. The Colonels' jumper at the other end missed, though, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra period, Shaw and Bell picked up where they left off in regulation, with the former sandwiching a pair of layups around a 3-point basket by the latter. SFA had a 57-50 lead with 2:59 to play, but that's when Nicholls' game-winning rally started, and the Lumberjacks could not answer this time.
Alexander scored a game-high 18 points, putting him over 1,000 points for his three-year career. He also hauled down 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season and the seventh of his career. He was joined in double digit scoring by Bell, who posted his third career double-figure game with 13 points, including a career-best 2-for-2 effort from 3-point range. Shaw also cracked double digits, scoring 11 points for his third double-figure outing of the season. Fonzie added nine points.
For the game, SFA shot 40.8 percent from the field and just 52.9 percent on free throws. The Lumberjacks beat Nicholls on the boards, 39-30, but turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 22 Colonels points. SFA got 11 offensive rebounds and converted them to 13 second-chance points, but the Lumberjack bench was outscored by Nicholls, 19-2, largely on the strength of 17 points from Anatoly Bose.
The Lumberjacks will return to action Saturday, when they travel to Hammond, La., to take on Southeastern Louisiana. The game against the Lions is set for a 3 p.m. tip.
-- SFA --