Northwestern State (22-8) vs. Stephen F. Austin (27-3)
Saturday, March 16, 8:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Leonard E. Merrell Center (5,600) -- Katy, Texas.
Television: ESPN2. Home Record: NWST 13-1, SFA 15-0. Away Record: NWST 8-7,
SFA 11-3. Neutral Record: NWST 1-0, SFA 1-0. Conference Record: NWST 15-3, SFA
16-2. Series Record: Northwestern State leads, 61-52.
GAME NOTES: With a trip to the NCAA Tournament at stake, the Northwestern
State Demons and Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks square off in the Southland
Conference Tournament Championship game at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in
This bout marks the third meeting of the 2012-13 season between these two
schools, and both successfully defended their home courts earlier this year.
Northwestern State claimed a 61-57 decision on Jan. 26 in Natchiotches,
Louisiana before the Lumberjacks got their revenge with a 64-63 win in
Nacogdoches, Texas on March 2.
Northwestern State will be trying to collect its third tourney title after
failing to do so each year since its 2006 championship. The Demons survived
their Friday night matchup with Sam Houston State as DeQuan Hicks and Marvin
Frazier each scored 11 points to help them hold on for a 55-52 win. Shamir
Davis and James Hulbin each tallied seven points as well for Northwestern
State, which has won its last three games.
The Demons have made 15 previous appearances in the conference tournament and
have played for the title six times, winning in 2001 and 2006. Northwestern
State went on to win games in the NCAA Tournament each of those years, beating
Winthrop in '01 and following that with a last-second upset victory of Iowa in
the '06 event. This year, Mike McConathy's Demons finished just one game
behind the Lumberjacks to become the second seed. Northwestern State has an
explosive offense with four double-digit scorers, led by Hicks and his 14.2
ppg. The Demons net 82.4 ppg, which is more than any other Division I school.
Stephen F. Austin advanced past Southeastern Louisiana on Friday, as Taylor
Smith went 7-of-8 from the floor en route to 14 points and 11 rebounds in what
wound up as a 68-57 victory. Antonio Bostic and Desmond Haymon netted 16
points apiece for the Lumberjacks, who also received 11 points and five
assists from Hal Bateman in the winning effort. SFA is seeking its second
Southland Conference Tournament championship, as its only other crown was won
The Lumberjacks lost just one non-conference game and notched impressive
victories at Tulsa, versus San Diego and at Oklahoma. Coach Danny Kaspar's
squad has won its last six games overall. SFA was below average offensively
this season with an average of 65.1 ppg, but defensively it was the best in
the nation with an allowed average of only 50.2 ppg. Smith was named the
Conference Player of the Year after he posted 15.6 points, nine rebounds,
three blocks and 1.1 steals per game. He also earned the Defensive Player of
the Year award.
The nation's top offensive team takes on it best defensive squad, with a berth
in the NCAA Tournament on the line. With both teams having successfully
defended their home courts during the regular season, this one is could go
either way. The Lumberjacks were more impressive on Friday and as the saying
goes, "defense wins championships".
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Stephen F. Austin 64, Northwestern State 60
03/16 10:36:18 ET
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