The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament, taking care of the Sam Houston State Bearkats, 68-49, to win the Southland Conference title. It's just their second appearance in the Big Dance; their first came in 2009. They also won their 28th-straight game and finished their conference run with a clean sheet.
Despite entering with a lengthy winning streak, Stephen F. Austin got off to a bit of a slow start. Sam Houston had the early advantage and a five-point lead at one point in the first half, but the Lumberjacks flipped the switch, ripping off a 14-2 run to gain the advantage. They held on to that lead through the rest of the half and went into the break up 33-28.
The second half was all Stephen F. Austin. A 16-3 run made the final ten minutes all but a formality. The Lumberjacks shot 49 percent from the floor overall, while Sam Houston could only manage to make 38.6 percent of its field goals. Stephen F. Austin also won the glass war, out-rebounding the Bearkats, 35-23. Thomas Walkup led the Lumberjacks with 19 points and Jacob Parker pulled down 12 rebounds. Not a single Bearkat reached double-digits in scoring -- Terrance Motley had nine points to lead his team.
With an NCAA spot secured, the question now turns to where the Lumberjacks will be seeded. They have a spotless conference record, but the Southland is one of the lower-end conferences and a No. 63 RPI won't help SFA's cause. SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean currently projects them as a No. 13 seed.