A combined effort of 39 points from Shannon Bogues and Kevon Harris was not enough as the Jacks dropped the final non-conference game of the season to Alabama 79-69 on Sunday night.
The matchup was the first time a Southeastern Conference team has come to William R. Johnson Coliseum. Texas A&M has come to Nacogdoches three times previously; however, they were not part of the SEC during those visits.
In front of a season-high 7,203 fans, SFA was able to score courtesy of Bogues’ two-point shot that gave the Jacks an early lead. Both teams traded blows until the four-minute mark which was the beginning of a three-point barrage from the Crimson Tide. Alabama would take a seven-point lead heading into halftime.
Coming out of halftime, SFA struggled to find a rhythm, eventually falling behind 12 points in only four minutes of play in the second half. SFA would battle back by bringing the deficit down to as little as three with a little more than five minutes left in the game. The comeback was led by Harris, who had 16 of his 18 points in the second half.
The Lumberjack momentum was short-lived, as they failed to slow down the Crimson Tide in the closing minutes. After two successful free throws from Kira Lewis, Jr., Alabama would end the game with a ten-point advantage at the final buzzer.
SFA was led by Bogues, who ended the night with a total of 21 points. John Comeaux would contribute 13 points, while Karl Nicholas would add 11 points along with a team-high eight rebounds.
Alabama was led by Lewis, Jr., who accumulated a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds. Following him was Riley Norris who collected 14 points, and Donta Hall, who had 12 points and 14 rebounds.
“The fans were loud. It was as loud of an arena that we’ve played in in a long time…"
- Avery Johnson, Alabama head coach
Alabama—who ranks 50th in the nation in rebounds—outrebounded the Jacks 47-30. In a sequence down the stretch, Alabama’s Riley Norris was able to nail a third-chance three pointer after two offensive rebounds that sunk SFA in an eight-point deficit.
“That’s probably the worst I’ve been outrebounded since 2004, to be honest with you, when I was coaching at Oklahoma State,” said Kyle Keller, SFA head coach. “That’s embarrassing. That’s not what we stand for. We stand for toughness in what we do, and we’ll fix that tomorrow. Trust me, that won’t happen again.”
Alabama begins their conference play on Saturday against Kentucky and then on the road to LSU.
“I was really concerned about playing this game out here, but we thought it was the best thing for us to help us get ready for tough SEC environments,” said Avery Johnson, Alabama head coach. “The fans were loud. It was as loud of an arena that we’ve played in in a long time…we needed to get on the road, we needed to come and play here and play against terrific players and a team, that if they get healthy, they’ll have a chance to go back to the NCAA tournament.”
Comeaux made his season debut after having a second microfracture surgery that threatened his basketball career during the offseason. Three minutes into the first half, he was able to step onto the court to a roaring crowd and put up pivotal shots.
“I don’t take nothing for granted. Every time I get on the court and I play for God first and I play for the fans,” Comeaux said. “My team needs me, my family needs me and they need to see me out there, and God gave me that opportunity.”
The Lumberjacks will be back in action when they take on Southland Conference foe Southeastern Louisiana in a rematch of last year’s SLC tournament championship at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the William R. Johnson Coliseum.