In a game that was eerily similar to the previous meeting between the two teams, the Stephen F. Austin women’s basketball team defeated Abilene Christian by a 65-48 score inside William R. Johnson Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Just as they did in Abilene back in January, the Ladyjacks used a strong push late in the game to pull away from the Wildcats.The win improves SFA to 24-5 on the season and 15-2 in conference play, while moving them to 16-0 at home this season.
TOP SFA PERFORMERS
• Imani Johnson tallied her second double-double of the season, finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks.
• Aiyana Johnson tallied 14 points on 5-6 shooting and added five rebounds.
• Chanell Hayes scored 10 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists.
HOW IT HAPPENED
SFA opened the contest locked in on defense, holding the Wildcats scoreless on their first four possessions, including two shot clock violations. ACU would jump ahead 5-4 after a slow start, but the Ladyjacks went on an 8-0 run spanning two minutes to lead 12-5 at the media timeout of the first quarter. Unfazed, ACU would rattled off a 7-0 run of their own in the final five minutes of play to tie the game at 12-apiece heading to the second quarter.
Aiyana Johnson gave the Ladyjacks a boost in the second frame, scoring five quick points and blocking a shot in quick succession to briefly put SFA back on top, 19-17. ACU would take a 22-19 lead into the media timeout of the second quarter. The teams remained tightly locked heading into the halftime break at 29-29.
In the third quarter, the Ladyjacks outscored ACU 17-12 to retake a substantial lead for the first time since the early going, leading 46-41 after three full quarters thanks to a 10-2 run to close out the frame.
In the fourth quarter, SFA would extend the lead out to 11 on a trey by Heaven Hamling with 3:05 remaining in the contest (59-48). A 7-0 run in the waning minutes of the contest gave SFA added insurance, as the ‘Cats would get no closer the rest of the way, going scoreless for the final four minutes of play.
• SFA has now held their opponent below 60 points for the game in 13 conference matchups this season. ACU converted on just 38 percent (17-44) of looks from the field and committed 22 turnovers.
• Chanell Hayes moved into seventh on SFA’s all-time made three-pointers list with her two treys in the contest, and now has 144 career long balls.
• At 24-5 on the season, SFA is just one victory away from clinching a third-straight 25 win season, having hit the benchmark in each of the past two seasons.
• The game marked the first game action for junior Riley Harvey in nearly a month as she works her way back from an injury. The junior scored two points (2-2 FT) and grabbed one of SFA’s 17 offensive boards in five minutes of action, also registering a block.
• Wednesday’s matchup featured the conference’s top two shooters by field goal percentage (Aiyana Johnson of SFA at .686 and Sara Williamson of ACU at .615). The advantage went to the youngest Johnson, who finished 5-6 from the field compared to 3-5 from Williamson.
• With the victory, SFA clinches a double bye in the upcoming Southland Conference Tournament, and remains in the hunt for a regular season title with one game remaining.
SFA closes out its regular season schedule back at home with a rivalry rematch on Saturday versus Sam Houston State. The Ladyjacks won the opening matchup between the two with a 78-68 victory in Huntsville on February 2.