SFA thwarts LU upset bid on ESPN2, 66-60

Published 10:57 am Thursday, November 17, 2016

One of the biggest home court advantages in men’s college basketball showed up when the home team needed it most, propelling reigning Southland Conference champion Stephen F. Austin State University in the final minute to thwart Longwood University’s early-season upset bid, 66-60, Tuesday morning at William R. Johnson Coliseum.

Buoyed by a thunderous, early-bird crowd of nearly 6,000 fans in attendance for the ESPN College Basketball Tip-Off Marathon showdown, the Lumberjacks (1-1) extended their home win streak to 19 games with a final-minute surge against a Longwood team eyeing a major upset on ESPN2. The Lancers (0-2) battled to tie the game at 57-57 with 1:06 to play, but Leon Gilmore’s go-ahead tip-in and Stephen F. Austin’s efficiency from the free throw line sparked the Lumberjacks to a game-winning 9-4 run.

Even with the late surge, the Lumberjacks needed a 21-point, 14-rebound double-double from sophomore forward T.J. Holyfield to overcome a recharged Longwood team that forced them into 23 turnovers, the most on their home floor since Feb. 1, 2012.

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The difference for Stephen F. Austin came on the offensive end of the floor where they converted 22 Longwood turnovers into 24 points, compared to just 11 such turnover-generated points for the Lancers.

Redshirt sophomore Isaiah Walton led Longwood with 15 points and three steals, Darrion Allen added 12 points and seven rebounds and Isaac Belton poured in 11 points off the bench.

The Lancers return Friday to Willett Hall where they will host Salem International University at 7 p.m. That game will air live on the Big South Network and WVHL 92.9 FM and will mark a return to Willett Hall for Tigers Head Coach Adam Williams, who was an assistant coach on last year’s Longwood staff.