SFA Gets Defensive In 56-39 Win
Dec. 4, 2007
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin overcame a 37-percent shooting effort with a sterling defensive performance Tuesday to take a 56-39 win over Southern at the William R. Johnson Coliseum. The 39 points allowed marks the first time since the 2002-03 season for SFA to hold an opponent under 40 points.
The victory moves SFA to 6-1 on the year, the Lumberjacks' best start through seven games since the 1981-82 season, when SFA opened 7-0. This marks the first time since becoming an NCAA Division I program for a Lumberjack team to win six of its first seven games.
After Kingsley, SFA's starting center and the Southland Conference's leading scorer, picked up his third foul early in the second half, Akpan came off the bench and provided a spark. His 21 minutes of action Tuesday were a season high, and he responded well to the increased playing time. Akpan scored 10 of his career-high 12 points in the second half and was one of only two Lumberjacks to shoot at least 50 percent from the floor. He hit 4 of 8 from the field and added three rejections at the other end of the floor. The three blocked shots were also a career high and marked his third multi-block game this season. Akpan just missed his first SFA double-double, pulling down a career-high nine rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.
SFA forced turnovers on the first four Southern possessions and never trailed in the game. The Lumberjacks shot just 34 percent in the first half, but outscored the Jaguars (1-5) in points off turnovers, 19-0, in the opening frame to take a 29-11 lead to the locker room. That marks the first time this season for SFA to hold an opponent under 20 points in the first half.
Southern upped its shooting average from 29 percent in the first half to 46 percent in the second, including a 4-for-6 effort from 3-point range. But SFA maintained its defensive intensity and stretched the lead to as many as 27 points. Southern still had not broken the 30-point barrier with three minutes to go in the game. A 3-pointer with 2:55 remaining made it a 50-30 contest, and the Jaguars tossed in three more field goals down the stretch to give them 15 for the game, one off the season-low for an SFA opponent this season.
Akpan led the charge in the paint, where SFA outscored Southern, 28-16, and his rebounding paced an effort that saw the `Jacks pull down nearly as many offensive boards (16) as defensive rebounds (18). For the game, SFA outscored the Jaguars, 19-5, in second-chance points.
Junior forward Josh Alexander chased Kingsley in the scoring column with nine points. He added a team-best four assists and pulled down four rebounds. Junior forward Nick Shaw also hauled in four boards and finished with eight points on 3-of-6 shooting. Freshman Dean Pele scored a career-high five points on 2-of-5 shooting and added an assist. Kingsley had five rebounds to go with his 10 points.
SFA is now 4-0 at home this season, the best home start for a Lumberjack team since the 2003-04 season. SFA will look for its fifth straight victory Saturday, when the Lumberjacks travel to Norman, Okla., to take on the Sooners of the Big 12. The game is set for a 12:30 p.m. start.
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