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.
2H | 1:01 | BAIN! The sophomore has come up huge in the last 2 minutes. His tip-in makes it 59-57 SFA! #AxeEm— LumberjackBasketball (@SFA_MBB) November 15, 2016
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.