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SFA men fall at ACU, Ladyjacks continue to dominate



ABILENE, TX – The SFA men’s basketball team squared off with another top Southland Conference team inside the Teague Center in Abilene on Wednesday night, coming away with a tough result in the form of an 82-62 setback at the hands of the ‘Cats. The Lumberjacks trailed by just one point at the halftime intermission but were outscored 46-27 in the second half by the hosts and drop to 9-3 (5-1 SLC) as a result.

A hard fought opening half of play saw the Wildcats open the game’s scoring and neither team being able to open up a lead larger than three points for much of the early going. After an ACU jumper gave them a narrow 23-21 lead with 9:37 left to play, the ‘Jacks would hold the hosts without a field goal for the remainder of the half, but a whistle heavy game meant the Wildcats were able to add 13 more points in the half entirely off of free throws, including one with 1:26 left in the half to send them into the break with a 37-36 lead.

SFA looked promising coming out the break, twice opening up a five-point lead on the hosts within the opening six minutes of the second half, but the game trended away from the Lumberjacks after that. A 10-2 run opened up an eight-point lead for ACU, and a layup by Roti Ware wasn’t enough to stem the bleeding as the home side extended the lead into double digits and didn’t let it get back to single digits for the remainder of the game. The ‘Jacks would end up being outscored 46-27 in the half, shooting just 40 percent from the field in the stanza and committing 13 second-half turnovers.

Cameron Johnson led the ‘Jacks with 13 points and also hauled down 15 rebounds to finish with a double-double. Ware, Calvin Solomon and Gavin Kensmil each finished in double-digits for the ‘Jacks as well.

Wednesday’s game was marred by a combined 44 personal fouls, leading to 29 free throw attempts for the hosts and 25 by the visitors. ACU shot 82 percent (24-29) at the line compared to just 56 percent (14-25) by SFA. Abilene Christian also forced 23 Lumberjack turnovers and scored 19 points off those turnovers.

The undefeated Ladyjacks in Southland Conference play (15-2, 7-0 SLC) traveled to Abilene Christian (10-4, 3-2 SLC) Wednesday night for a midweek showdown against the Wildcats, coming back to Nacogdoches with a 73-52 road victory.

ACU came into the matchup averaging nearly 78 points per game, but the Ladyjacks were able to hold the Wildcats to its lowest point total at the half this season with 22 points, as SFA led 32-22 at the break.

SFA navigated ACU’s 2-3 zone from the start, with Marissa Banfield able to convert on a pair of triples in the first half, as she finished the first half with eight points. The Ladyjacks went on a three-minute scoring drought toward the end of the 2nd quarter, but two consecutive layups from Aiyana Johnson made it 25-18 SFA at 2:22 to play.

SFA was able to make the final mark on the 1st half from a Stephanie Visscher inbound steal with no shot clock and passed the ball up to Marissa Banfield for a layup to put the Ladyjacks up by 10 points. SFA ended the 1st half 5-6 from the field.

ACU put themselves back into the ballgame and built momentum from four three-pointers in the 3rd quarter, and the game trend starting to go in ACU’s way after making its first four shots of the half. The Wildcats trimmed the lead to 43-42 SFA off of an Alyssa Adams jumper, but the Ladyjacks were able to hold ACU scoreless in the final two minutes of the quarter, and Zya Nugent put the icing on the cake with a 3-pointer with 52 seconds on the clock to give her team a 46-42 at the end of three.

In the 4th quarter, Aaliyah Johnson hit a pivotal 3-pointer to put her team back up by 11, 53-42 at 8:54 to play in the contest. The Wildcats didn’t score a single point until 6:32 in the quarter to make it 53-44, but a Stephanie Visscher 3-pointer put the lead right back to 12. Banfield hit two more threes to put the dagger in the final minutes of the game, and SFA ran away with a 73-52 win over the Wildcats. The Ladyjacks forced 23 ACU turnovers, scoring 26 points on the other end.

Three Ladyjacks finished in double-figures, with Banfield and Nugent scoring 16 points apiece. Pilgrim’s Player of the Game Aiyana Johnson was crucial on the night as well, contributing 14 points and six rebounds. Avery Brittingham chipped in eight points and eight rebounds.

SFA will be back in action against Sam Houston on Saturday, January 30th at William R. Johnson Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 2:00 p.m.