Latrell Jossell had 11 points to help SFA pick up its first-ever WAC win on Thursday night at ACU. Courtesy SFA Athletics.

Lumberjacks Survive Late ACU Run In Abilene

For those fans of existing WAC schools, let me introduce you to the Stephen F. Austin-Abilene Christian rivalry. Yes, we can call games between the Lumberjacks and the Wildcats a rivalry. You may not find two other teams in the country that will go at each other as hard as these two for 40 minutes.

Thursday night in West Texas, it was no different.

The Lumberjacks came in at 8-4. It was SFA’s first game in almost three weeks due to COVID postponements. ACU, on the other hand, has been red hot. Coming into Thursday, the Wildcats were riding an 11-game win streak with an impressive Quad I road win at Utah Valley.

And again if you haven’t seen these two play each other, they are typically low scoring and very physical affairs. And that is exactly how Thursday night went. Despite committing 26 turnovers, SFA was able to come away with a 64-58 road win over ACU.

Similar in styles, both programs rely on their defense and turning the other team over. I had two keys coming into the game. First, who would win the battle of bigs between Kensmil/Solomon and Simmons/Steele? And second, who could step up for SFA with Roti Ware out?

What we got was a balanced Lumberjack attack offensively. This was part of an almost complete defensive performance. And SFA had a complete dismantling on the boards with a 37-22 advantage. Behind Latrell Jossell, Nigel Hawkins and Jaylin Jackson-Posey, SFA knocked down 7 3-pointers in the first half and opened up a 17-point lead. The Jacks led by 12 at the break.

And the SFA defense stifled Airion Simmons and WAC Player of the Week Cameron Steele. SFA held the duo to just 9 points on 3-13 shooting.

ACU came in leading the country in steals. Forcing SFA into 26 turnovers kept the Wildcats in the game. Many were unforced. But, the Lumberjacks were able to finish the game shooting 51 percent from the field and 45.5 precent from long distance to maintain a second half lead.

The Wildcats, on other hand, struggled offensively. Credit to Kyle Keller and his staff for the game plan they had in place. SFA proved again that their defense is good enough to win these big games. Thursday night was definitely the toughest defense that Brette Tanner and the Wildcats have faced thus far this season.

ACU was able to shoot 52 percent in the second half. But only managed to make only 2 of 17 3-point attempts for the game. Despite the the SFA turnovers, the Wildcats didn’t have enough to pull off the comeback. ACU dropped its first game at the Teague Center snapping a 21-game win streak.

Gavin Kensmil finished with a team-high 13 points, joined by Jossell (11) and Hawkins (10) to lead SFA in what was an impressive defensive effort to get the Quad I win on the road.

In what some might refer to as an ugly game, there were turnovers aplenty. Free throws came in droves. The whistles for fouls was rough. And a double technical late in the game. The Teague Center was hot on Thursday night. But SFA got it done in its first-ever WAC contest.

For SFA, no time to rest with a sneaky game at Tarleton on Saturday. The Wildcats are back home against Sam Houston.

About the author

Matt Adkins

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