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Southland: Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston St. advance to title game

The Southland Conference Tournament Championship match-up is set. It'll be the "Battle of the Piney Woods" hardcourt edition as rivals Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State are on a collision course.

Desmond Haymon scored 27 to lead SFA to the Southland Championship game
Desmond Haymon scored 27 to lead SFA to the Southland Championship game

#1 Stephen F. Austin 85, #4 Northwestern St. 78

Desmond Haymon's 27 points led the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks past the Northwestern St. Demons and into the Southland Conference Tournament Championship game. SFA improves to a remarkable 30-2 on the season. They have won 27 consecutive games.

The game started strong for SFA. They led by 10 at the half, and stretched that lead to 16 early in the second half before the Demons made their run. Northwestern State outscored SFA 32-13, holding the Lumberjacks without a field goal for 9:20 of the run, to take a 68-65 lead. SFA regrouped, though, and completely dominated the final five minutes. Northwestern State was held to just a single field goal, and committed five turnovers in the last 5:05.

Jacob Parker, the Southland's Player of the Year, was hampered by foul trouble for much of the game but he made a few critical plays down the stretch. He scored two crucial baskets, at the 2:40 and 1:59 marks, that kept the Lumberjack lead at three points. Then, with just more than 30 seconds remaining, Parker grabbed an offensive rebound on a missed shot that eventually led to a pair of free throws by Haymon that stretched the lead from three to five. In just 18 minutes of playing time, Parker scored 10 points.

Northwestern State's incredible sophomore guard Jalan West led all scorers with 36 points. DeQuan Hicks added 10 points and eight rebounds.

#3 Sam Houston St 69, #2 A&M-Corpus Christi 63

A strong first half performance lifted the Sam Houston St. Bearkats to victory over the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders, and into the Southland Conference Tournament Championship game.

The Bearkats used a swift 12-0 run over three minutes of play late in the first half to help build a 39-29 halftime lead. In the second half, SHSU made just four field goals, but combined with 21 made free throws they had just enough to hold off the Islanders.

Kaheem Ransom led the Bearkats with 15 points. James Thomas added 12 while Jabari Peters scored 11 with four assists and three rebounds.

Hameed Ali led AMCC with 12 points. The dynamic John Jordan scored 11 points and added six assists and three rebounds.