Stephen F. Austin beats Texas-San Antonio, clinches Southland title
Katy, TX (Sports Network) - Matt Kingsley posted 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting to lead Stephen F. Austin to its first NCAA Tournament, as the Lumberjacks upended Texas-San Antonio, 68-57, in the title game of the Southland Conference Tournament at the Merrell Center.
"I am most proud of this team and the way they devoted themselves to this season both on and off the court," SFA head coach Danny Kaspar said. "It's been a pleasure to coach these guys. They've always worked as hard as I've asked them to."
Eddie Williams was a spark off the bench with 16 points for Stephen F. Austin (24-7), winners of eight straight, while Josh Alexander added 16 points and seven rebounds for the victors.
"It's crazy. You dream of this as a kid and never really believe it could happen. I don't think it's hit me yet, I'm speechless," Williams said.
The Lumberjacks earned a No. 14 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will face the Syracuse Orange out of the South Region in Miami, Fla.
Texas-San Antonio (19-13), the tournament's No. 6 seed, upset Sam Houston State and Nicholls State to gain a spot in the finals after a mediocre 8-8 conference mark, but the Roadrunners' surprising run ended despite Devin Gibson's 23-point effort.
SFA ended the opening half with a flurry, scoring 11 of the last 15 points, as Walt Harris' three-pointer gave the top seed a 37-28 lead at the break.
The Lumberjacks extended the margin to 13 around the 11-minute mark of the second half when Williams' layup off a UTSA turnover capped a quick six-point surge for a 52-39 game
Gibson drilled a rainbow trey with a hand in his face with seven minutes left to pull the underdogs within 54-48, but Williams answered with two consecutive buckets for another double-digit lead.
The Roadrunners continued to fight back, cutting the deficit to 61-54 when Gibson netted a layup with 2:09 remaining.
It was as close as the UTSA got, as Alexander hit a layup and Gibson followed with a rare miss, allowing the Lumberjacks to finish off their best season at the free throw line.
"I have to give credit to Stephen F. Austin for their first NCAA Tournament," UTSA head coach Brooks Thompson said. "They are a talented team...I think we came as close as we could, but we just fell short."
This was a rematch of the 2004 Southland title game, which was won by the Roadrunners, 74-70...The Lumberjacks have won five straight against UTSA, which shot a respectable 41.2 percent from the floor, but allowed SFA to hit 54.0 percent of its shots...Travis Gabbidon ended with 10 points and seven boards for the Roadrunners.
03/15 18:42:37 ET