Coming into Wednesday night, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks were the hottest team in the WAC. The Lumberjacks were riding an 8-game winning streak after squeaking out a pair of wins last week. As winning streaks do, the Lumberjacks put themselves back in the hunt for a WAC regular season title.
And in a massive game at the Pan Am Center in Las Cruces, the Lumberjacks pulled out another squeaker. Latrell Jossell had a team-high 17 points as the Lumberjacks held on for a 73-71 win over New Mexico Sate on Wednesday night. It is the first time under Chris Jans that a WAC opponent has beaten the Aggies in the Pan Am Center. The last loss for the Aggies in the Pan Am was Feb. 23, 2017 when Utah Valley beat the Aggies, 84-72.
Johnny McCants finished with a game-high 20 points while also pulling down 10 rebounds and finishing with six blocks.
Behind McCants and Will McNair, New Mexico State ran out to a 5-0 lead. But, the Lumberjacks responded with a 12-0 run to take a 12-5 lead with 13:49 left in the first half. New Mexico State responded with a run of its own. The Aggies went on a 9-0 run to take the lead right back with 9:50 left in the first half.
And so it went. Back and forth. New Mexico State’s largest lead came with 13:37 to play in the second half. Will McNair’s 3-pointer gave the Aggies a 45-35 lead. But, the Lumberjacks hung around and never let the Aggies pull away. Back-to-back buckets by Latrell Jossell and Gavin Kensmil tied the game at 54 with 7:46 to play.
Day Day Hall’s jumper in the lane with 6:49 left gave the Jacks a 57-55 lead. But NMSU came right back with an answer. Will McNair pulled down and offensive rebound and finished with the put-back and Nate Pryor’s jumper gave the Aggies a 59-57 lead.
But, as in all good boxing matches, the fighters respond. And David Kachelries did just that with a 3-pointer to give SFA a 60-59 lead with 5:10 to play. Back-to-back buckets by Day Day Hall and Gavin Kensmil made a 64-59 lead. And despite Virshon Cotton hitting three 3-pointers over the final 30 seconds, SFA was able to walk out of Las Cruces with a win.
FINAL | @SFA_MBB 73, NM State 71
— The Western Athletic Conference (@WACsports) March 3, 2022
With the win, SFA put itself in the mix for a share of the regular season crown. And if crazy things happen on the final day of the regular season, both NMSU or SFA could walk away as outright regular season champs. NMSU, SFA and Seattle are all tied atop the WAC standings at 13-4. If all three win on Saturday, all three are regular season co-champs. And in that scenario, NMSU would be the 1-seed. Seattle would be the 2-seed. And SFA would be the 3-seed.
New Mexico State hosts Utah Valley in the final regular season game on Saturday night. Seattle hosts Chicago State in a Saturday afternoon matinee. And SFA travels to South Texas to take on UTRGV in Edinburg.
Gavin Kensmil and Day Day Hall both finished in double figures for SFA with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Virshon Cotton had 12 points while Will McNair and Teddy Allen both had 11 points for the Aggies.