Jan. 3, 2013
NACOGDOCHES - Stephen F. Austin used a stifling defense Thursday evening at Johnson Coliseum to build a big halftime lead and hand Lamar University a 79-43 loss in the Cardinals' Southland Conference basketball opener.
Lamar, which fell to 2-11 on the year and 0-1 in league play, committed 16 first half turnovers which SFA turned into 24 points in taking a 46-16 lead at the half. The Cardinals didn't score a field goal over the final 9:35 of the first half as they were outscored 21-6 during that stretch.
SFA (11-1 overall, 2-0 in the SLC) entered the game with the nation's top defense in terms of points allowed per game at 49.5. Lamar's 16 first half points were its lowest since scoring 15 in the first half of the season opener at Kansas State.
"We just made too many mistakes," said LU head coach Pat Knight. "Until that changes, we're not going to beat anybody. You can't expect to give up over 30 points on turnovers and expect to beat anybody.
"They did a great job pressuring us and our guys starting panicking. They scout and it's obvious we have a hard time handling the ball. Right now, we're just throwing it away."
The Cardinals shot a solid 11-of-23 (47.8 percent) from the floor in the second half, but could draw no closer than 27 points. SFA hit half its field goal attempts in the second half and finished the game 29-of-60 from the floor.
While the Cardinals played with more energy in the second half, they still finished the game with a season-high 29 turnovers and were beaten 34-23 on the boards. SFA grabbed 18 offensive rebounds and had a 16-7 edge in second chance points.
Lamar's only lead of the game came early in the first half as senior Donley Minor knocked down a jumper with 16:42 to play that made it 4-2. SFA used a 16-0 run over the ensuing four minutes to build a double-digit lead that it would not relinquish the rest of the game.
The Cards were a solid 13-of-14 from the free throw line in the game, including 8-of-8 in the first half. Lamar shot just 28.6 percent from the floor in the first half in making only four field goals.
Freshman D.J. Muepo came off the Lamar bench to score eight points and grab five rebounds, leading the Cardinals in both categories. Minor added seven points and Donnell Minton finished with six points and had the Cards' only steal in the game as SFA surrendered just 12 turnovers.
The Lumberjacks got at least two points from 12 different players with Taylor Smith and Deshaunt Walker scoring 10 each. Smith, Desmond Haymon and Ice Asortse grabbed six rebounds apiece to lead the `Jacks rebounding effort.
Lamar will continue Southland Conference road action at Northwestern State on Saturday afternoon. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. following the Lady Cardinals' contest with NSU.