Runs in college basketball have a way of changing a game. SFA guards AJ Cajuste and Nigel Hawkins were catalysts in proving that theory correct on Sunday night.
Cajuste went on a 7-0 run to end the first half and Hawkins went on a run to start the second half to kickstart the SFA offense en route to a 80-58 win over California Baptist at The Sawmill on ESPNU.
With SFA holding a 25-24 lead with 2:34 left in the half, Cajuste came alive. Cajuste knocked down a pair of free throws, hit a step-back 3-pointer and a driving layup to give SFA a 32-24 lead at the break.
Cajuste’s run completely changed the complexity of the ball game.
“That sparked momentum for us,” SFA head coach Kyle Keller said. “AJ, in the second half, has played terrific for us for a junior college player. It takes a semester or so to really come on. He’s won us some games. But just floor general, guarding the ball the way we need it to be guarded, getting guys shots in the paint … that’s maturity on his part.”
SFA came out of the halftime locker room on fire.
Nigel Hawkins scored SFA’s first five points of the second half and all of a sudden the lead was 10 just 50 seconds into the half.
Hawkins hit another jumper to push the lead to 14 with 18:14 to play. It was the start of an impressive run for SFA. The Jacks hit 10 of 11 shots at one point in the second half.
“Hawk was terrific,” Keller said. “He made so many plays to start the second half. Drove it. Made shots. Made plays for others. It just busted the game open.”
AJ Cajuste’s layup pushed the lead to 23 with 12:32 to play. CBU head coach Rick Croy had seen enough. When Croy called timeout after that bucket, SFA was shooting 85 percent from the field.
Day Day Hall got in the mix with a pair of buckets from the left block. Nana Antwi-Boasiako threw down a two-handed slam. Nigel Hawkins knocked down a wide open corner 3-pointer. The shots kept falling for the Jacks.
With just over eight minutes in the game, Scotty Washington gave CBU some life. Washington knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers and went on an 8-0 run all by himself.
Unfortunately, at that point it was too late. Washington’s run simply cut the deficit to 22.
Simply put…the SFA offense took care of business in the second half. The Jacks shot 61 percent from the field in the second half, scored 58 second-half points, and rolled to a 22-point win on ESPNU.
Nigel Hawkins finished with game-high 21 points. Day Day Hall was also in double figures with 15 points. AJ Cajuste finished with 12 points as the Jacks shot 53 percent from the field on the night. Hawkins was actually 9-12 from the field in 27 minutes.
Scotty Washington led CBU with 13 points. Blondeau Tchoukuiegno was the only other Lancer in double figures with 12 points. CBU shot 34 percent from the field.
With the win, SFA improves to 19-10 overall and 11-5 in WAC play. The Jacks host Sam Houston on Wednesday before finishing the regular season at Utah Valley on Friday.
CBU falls to 15-14 overall and 7-9 in WAC play. The Lancers host UTRGV on Wednesday before finishing the regular season at Southern Utah on Friday.