From SLU Athletics
KATY, Texas – Stephen F. Austin's Antonio Bostic scored 10 of his 16 points in a 20-5 run in the first half and the top-seeded Lumberjacks withstood a late run by Southeastern Louisiana to claim a 68-57 victory in the semifinals of the 2013 Southland Conference Basketball Tournament on Friday at the Leonard E. Merrell Center.
Desmond Haymon added 16 points for SFA (27-3), the nation's top team in scoring defense allowing 50.2 points per game. The win sent SFA into the league's championship game on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., where it will face No. 2 seed Northwestern State, a 55-52 winner over No. 6 seeded Sam Houston State.
Taylor Smith, the Southland Conference Player of the Year, scored all of his 14 points in the first half while Hal Bateman added 11 for the Lumberjacks, who won their sixth consecutive game after suffering a 54-50 loss at Southeastern (13-18) on Feb. 16.
Southeastern, the No. 4 seed in the eight-team field and making its fourth appearance in the semifinals in nine tournament berths, led 20-19 with 9:49 remaining in the first half on a layup by Brandon Fortenberry.
Bostic, who scored a combined 13 points in two previous outings against Southeastern, began a 10-0 run for the Lumberjacks with a 3-pointer before a bucket by Smith, a 3-pointer by Nikola Gajic and a bucket by Bostic gave SFA a 29-20 lead at the 6:59 mark. After Southeastern closed to within 32-25 on a 3-pointer by Dre Evans with 5:23 remain
ing, SFA closed out the half with a 7-0 run as Bostic scored five straight points with a 3-pointer and bucket before an acrobatic layup by Smith helped the Lumberjacks stage a 39-25 lead at halftime. SFA pushed their lead to 52-30 in the second half on a free throw by Bateman with 11:33 remaining before the Lions chipped away at the lead.
A pair of 3-pointers by Evans along with a 3-pointer by Todd Nelson and a free throw by Jeremy Campbell helped the Lions get to within 52-40 with 7:48 remaining. Southeastern would get as close as 56-46 on a 3-pointer by Onochie Ochie with 5:33 left, but the Lumberjacks would eventually push their lead to 66-48 on a layup by Haymon with 1:52 left.
The game marked the final appearance for a quartet of Southeastern seniors – Fortenberry, injured starter Roosevelt Johnson, Nelson and Jan Petrovcic.
Fortenberry, who scored all 10 of his points in the first half, finished his career as the school's fifth all-time leading scorer (1,348 points) while finishing first in games played (120), second in assists (421), fourth in 3-pointers made (168), fifth in free throws made (292) and sixth in steals (110).
Southeastern opened the game with a pair of baskets by Jeffery Ricard before 3-pointers by Ochie and Fortenberry gave the Lions a 10-6 lead. Fortenberry snapped an 11-11 deadlock with a layup with 15:04 remaining in the first half before the Lions took their biggest lead of the night – 18-13 – on a jumper by Evans with 12:38 left.
Ochie, making his second start in place of Johnson, scored a team-high 12 points for Southeastern going 4-for-7 from the floor and 4-for-5 from behind the 3-point line. Evans added 11 points for the Lions while Nelson scored 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Southeastern finished 19-for-47 (40.4 percent) from the floor while tying a season-high with an 11-for-21 performance from behind the 3-point line.