DeQuan Hicks intercepted a pass in the closing seconds and prevented Stephen F. Austin from making a comeback, as Northwestern State won, 68-66, in the Southland Conference Tournament final.
Northwestern State, which earned the second seed and two byes in the tourney, defeated Sam Houston State to reach the title game.
Shamir Davis had a team-high 19 points and Hicks tallied 13 for the Demons, who will be making their third NCAA Tournament appearance and their first since 2006.
"When you're battling, you're just trying to win the game," said Demons coach Mike McConathy. "It was a great game. It matched two teams that were very close in their abilities and I felt like both of them came to play."
Desmond Haymon scored 23 points for the Lumberjacks, who earned the top seed in the tourney. Taylor Smith registered 16 points and 14 rebounds and Antonio Bostic added 15 points.
"This loss is disappointing for a lot of reasons, but all three of our games came down to the wire against these guys," said Lumberjacks coach Danny Kaspar. "Our guys have put together a very special season, and we cannot forget that it is not over yet. We came up just short of our ultimate goal of the NCAA Tournament, but these guys still have earned a conference championship ring and have a chance to make some noise in the NIT."
Entering the second half, the Lumberjacks had a 35-34 edge, but that quickly disappeared after Davis made a layup about a minute in, giving the Demons the lead, which they would hold on to for the rest of the contest.
The Demons extended their lead by as much as nine points, 54-45, with nine minutes remaining, but the Lumberjacks came back and cut the deficit to 62-61 with nearly four minutes to play.
The two teams traded buckets over the next 2 1/2 minutes, and Haymon's jumper with 1:30 left was the final score of the game.
Stephen F. Austin was unable to rally in the closing minute. Jalan West missed a 3-point shot and another jumper, the second one with nine seconds left before a final turnover from the Lumberjacks sealed the outcome.
Stephen F. Austin extended their streak to 63 consecutive games of holding opponents under 70 points ... The Lumberjacks recorded just two steals and one block in the game.