The Lumberjacks won 65-60 after benefitting from a second-half surge to win a grudge match against Southeastern Louisiana Lions in the opening game of conference play.
SFA was led by a double-double performance from Devonta Fitzgerald, who recorded 15 points and 12 rebounds. With the first game of Southland play under his belt, Fitzgerald has now competed in three different conference openers including the Big Ten Conference during his time with Minnesota and the SEC with Texas A&M.
"...I think we buttoned up our chin strap and played a little bit in the second half. At least offensively.”
- Kyle Keller, SFA men's basketball head coach
SFA struggled in the first half, only shooting 24 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from behind the arc.
The Jacks earned the first lead of the game courtesy of a breakaway dunk from Karl Nicholas and a three-point shot from Kevon Harris; however, SLU seized the reins by gaining and maintaining the lead for the remainder of the first half. The Lions took a 26-21 lead into halftime.
At the start of the second half, the Jacks chipped away at SLU’s lead. Four minutes into the second half, a three-point field goal from Fitzgerald brought the game level and a layup from Mitchell Seraille gave the Jacks the lead. SFA didn’t look back as they were able to hold on to the lead until the final buzzer.
“We executed a lot better in the second half, for sure on offense,” said Kyle Keller, SFA men's basketball head coach. “You hate to say it and you hate to talk about it; we talked about it for the past 48 hours about the hangover effect from [the Alabama game] and you felt it in the building and you felt it on the bench, but I think we buttoned up our chin strap and played a little bit in the second half. At least offensively.”
SFA forced SLU into a total of 23 turnovers. Marlain Veal of SLU—2017 SLC Defensive Player of the Year and 2018 Preseason All-Conference First Team selection—was forced into 10 turnovers.
“I thought we had a great scouting report and great plan for [Moses] Greenwood, and we just hope on Veal,” Keller said. “We ran bodies at [Veal.] We kind of changed the way we covered ball screens.”
SFA was able to draw fouls and get to the free throw line. The Jacks shot a total of 27 free throws and converted 19 (70.4 percent.)
Along with Fitzgerald, Shannon Bogues led the team with 18 points followed by Harris who had 15. John Comeaux also provided a spark in his second game of the season with nine points off the bench.
SLU had three players in double figures in points. Brandon Gonzalez led the way with 16 points, followed by Von Julien and Veal who had 13 and 10 points, respectively. Kajon Brown provided 9 points off the bench as well as a team-leading six rebounds.
The Lumberjacks will be back at 7 p.m. Wednesday when they take on Nicholls State in Thibodaux, Louisiana. The game will be televised on Eleven Sports as well as broadcast on Q107.7.