Katy, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - By the time the Southland Player of the Year Jacob Parker finally broke into the scoring column, Stephen F. Austin had already established a healthy cushion.
It did it with offensive efficiency and a suffocating defense.
The Lumberjacks won their 28th game in a row and doubled a perfect conference record with a Southland Tournament Championship following a 68-49 rout of Sam Houston State.
Thomas Walkup had 19 points, while Parker finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for Stephen F. Austin (31-2), which captured the conference crown for the first time since 2009.
"For us to be on the national stage and represent who we are and what we're about ... that means the world," Lumberjacks head coach Brad Underwood said. "I've said it all along: we play for the name on our front, not on the back, and we take great, great pride in being able to play for Stephen F. Austin State University."
The Lumberjacks tallied 16 assists on 25 made field goals and outrebounded their in-state Texas rivals 35-23. They limited Sam Houston State to just two field goals in the opening 11:10 of the second half.
Stephen F. Austin recorded 27 wins a year ago, but fell to Northwestern State, 68-66, in the Southland title game and did not earn a bid into the Big Dance.
No player scored in double figures for the Bearkats (23-10). Terrance Motley led them with nine points.
"They defended us pretty well. I thought early in the game, we got some pretty good shots that didn't go in," Sam Houston State head coach Jason Hooten said.
Stephen F. Austin led 33-28 at the break and extended the margin following a 16-3 run in the second half. Parker's first basket, a layup off a nice feed from Desmond Haymon, gave the Lumberjacks their first double-digit cushion, 43-32, with 14:41 left.
They led by as many as 21 down the stretch.
Earlier, the Bearkats opened up an 18-12 advantage before the Lumberjacks responded with a 14-2 swing later in the first half as a Haymon layup staked them to a 31-24 edge late in the stanza.
The Lumberjacks shot 49 percent (25-of-51) from the floor, while the Bearkats finished 38.6 percent (17-of-44) from the field ... Sam Houston State has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2010.