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Kingsley, SFA throttle Lamar

NACOGDOCHES — Too much Matt Kingsley and too little offensive cohesion put Lamar University in a hole it couldn’t dig out of here Saturday night.

The 6-9 Kingsley scored 24 of his game high 26 points to help Stephen F. Austin build a 55-35 lead in the game’s first 30 minutes, and the East Division leading Lumberjacks fought off a free-throw fueled Cardinal rally for a 74-62 victory at Johnson Coliseum.

Lamar, which shot only 37.8 percent while managing a season low four assists, made 12 consecutive free throws to climb within five points in the late going. SFA, however, iced the game with eight straight free throws in the final minute.

The defeat, Lamar’s third in its last four games, drops the Cardinals to 3-7 in Southland Conference play and 12-10 on the season. SFA improved to 7-2, 15-6.

Kenny Dawkins and Brandon McThay paced the Cardinals with 14 points apiece, but each hurt the Cardinals with turnovers. Dawkins, only 4-of-12 from the field, turned the ball over five times. McThay was a perfect 9-9 at the foul line, but offset that with four turnovers.

Jay Brown added 12 points and six rebounds for the Cardinals, while freshman Charlie Harper chipped in with 12 points and four rebounds.

Lamar began to unravel after a Dawkins trey produced its final lead of the game, 23-22, with 5:37 left in the opening period. The Cardinals then missed their next eight shots and trailed 34-23 before a Dawkins bucket and Harper’s midcourt buzzer beater got them within 34-28 at the break.

SFA opened the final period with a 21-7 burst for a 20-point advantage, as LU missed its first seven shots. Brown broke a near 10-minute field goal drought with a putback, then McThay swished a trey, Ashton Hall sank a jumper and Coy Custer scored on a rebound to trim the deficit to 59-44.

That’s when the Cardinals started taking the ball to the basket and getting to the foul line. Over the next seven minutes. LU wrapped 10 free throws around a Dawkins drive and Hall three pointer to narrow the gap to 64-59. Kingsley righted the ship for SFA with his final basket.

Two more free throws by Harper got the Cardinals with 66-61, but that’s as close as it would get.

Lamar’s four assists, which are less than Dawkins 4.5 per game average, underscored its problems getting good shots against SFA’s Southland Conference-leading defense. The Cardinals were 11-of-26 from the field in the first half and only 6-of-19 after the break. They finished 17–of-45 for 37.8 percent.

SFA, with Kingsley sinking 12-of-16 from the field, shot 54.9 percent (28-of-51). The Lumberjacks got 13 points — 11 of them in the second half — from Josh Alexander and 12 points and 5 assists from Eric Bell.

Thanks to Kingsley, who had nine rebounds to go with his 26 points, the Lumberjacks owned a 24-16 edge in points in the paint. Each team finished with 27 rebounds.

Lamar steps out of Southland Conference play for its final non-conference game Monday night at Utah Valley State. The Cardinals return to league play Saturday night against Texas State at the Montagne Center. — BOB WEST