Southeastern Louisiana (13-17) vs. Stephen F. Austin (26-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 15, 6 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Leonard E. Merrell Center (5,600) -- Katy, Texas. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: SELA 9-3, SFA 15-0. Away Record: SELA 3-14, SFA 11-3. Neutral Record: SELA 1-0, SFA 0-0. Conference Record: SELA 10-8, SFA 16-2. Series Record: SFA leads, 10-3.
GAME NOTES: In semifinal action of the Southland Conference Tournament, the fourth-seeded Southeastern Louisiana Lions look to take down the top-seeded Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at the Leonard E. Merrell Center.
The Lions are coming off an 85-65 destruction of the No. 8 McNeese State Cowboys in the quarterfinals. Southeastern Louisiana has won its last three times out on the floor, but is still a mere 13-17 overall, while finishing up Southland Conference play at 10-8.
The Lumberjacks finished off the regular season with five consecutive wins after downing Texas A&M Corpus Christi, 58-49, in the regular-season finale. SFA went 16-2 in conference action on the year to win the regular season title, while managing a stellar 26-3 overall record.
The squads split the regular season meetings with each taking a victory on their own court. The last time they met was on Feb. 16 when the Lions took a 54-50 win to recover from the 52-40 loss they took suffered at the hands of the Lumberjacks a month prior. Stephen F. Austin now leads 10-3 in the all- time series.
The winner will take on either Northwestern State or Sam Houston State for the tournament title on Saturday.
Brandon Fortenberry was one of five SELA players to score in double figures in the win over McNeese State with 18 points to go with eight rebounds. Dre Evans had 17 points, while Onochie Ochie had 15 points and eight rebounds as he stepped in and started for Roosevelt Johnson. Jeffery Ricard had 14 points and Roger Woods managed 10 for the Lions, who used a sizzling performance, shooting .571 from the floor in the first half and .542 after the break to cruise to the 20-point victory.
The Lions' offensive eruption was certainly not the norm for a team that averaged only 62.9 ppg coming in. Fortenberry led the squad with 14.7 ppg coming in, despite shooting just 40.9 percent of from the field. Johnson added 10.6 points and 8.3 rebounds, but did not play in the quarterfinals due to a knee injury.
In the win over Texas A&M-CC, Taylor Smith recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds to go with five assists and three blocks for SFA. Desmond Haymon had 16 points and seven rebounds, while Antonio Bostic added 14 points.
The Lumberjacks lost just one non-conference game and earned big wins against Tulsa, San Diego and Oklahoma. While SFA was a modest offensive unit this season at just 65.0 ppg, defensively it was the best in the nation, allowing only 50.2 ppg. Smith was named the Conference Player of the Year after he managed 15.6 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks per game. He also had 1.1 steals per game and earned the Defensive Player of the Year award as well. Bostic and Haymon are two more key contributors with double-digit scoring averages, while Hal Bateman deals out 5.7 assists per tilt.
SFA's defensive intensity will be far too much for the usually low-scoring Lions to overcome in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Stephen F. Austin 66, SE Louisiana 47
03/15 10:32:58 ET