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Stephen F. Austin avoids Longwood upset, extends home winning streak

The Lumberjacks had to sweat to run their streak to 29.

Stephen F. Austin v Notre Dame
T.J. Holyfield had a career day in a tight game.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Stephen F. Austin extended its home winning streak to 29 games.

But it wasn’t easy.

The Lumberjacks found themselves in a tight game late against Longwood in Kyle Keller’s home debut. The Lancers used a 15-4 run - and some great ball movement - to turn a nine-point deficit into a 49-47 lead with under eight minutes left.

After trading baskets down the stretch, SFA took the lead for good at 59-57 on a Nathan Bain tip-in with just over a minute left.

Longwood wasn’t able to get a good look after that, settling for deep, contested three’s with the game still within reach.

It was a particularly ugly game overall, with the teams combining for 45 turnovers and the Lumberjacks shooting just 38.8 percent from the floor. But SFA cleaned up the glass - something it did reasonably in the loss at Kentucky - and got a career night from sophomore T.J. Holyfield (21 points).

A loss would’ve been a crushing way to open the Keller era at Johnson Coliseum and end the nation’s third-longest Division I home winning streak. The Lancers were picked second to last in the Big South preseason poll and sit at #337 in the KenPom ratings.

To say this would’ve been a massive upset is an understatement.

On the other side, Jayson Gee must be encouraged that the Lancers nearly up-ended SFA while getting key minutes from a trio of juniors - Kendrick Thompson, Khris Lane, Damarion Geter - and a sophomore (Isaiah Walton, 15 points).

The Lumberjacks would’ve fallen to 0-3 in the Tip-Off Marathon with a loss. Their last home defeat came at the hands of Northern Iowa in the 2014 marathon.

Instead, the marathon beats on with one major upset avoided.