South Region No. 12 seed Stephen F. Austin was a trendy pick to at the very least win its first game of the NCAA tournament, with Brad Underwood’s team boasting a 28-game win streak entering their game against No. 5 VCU. But after being on the wrong end of a 26-5 second half run, the Lumberjacks trailed by ten with 3:38 remaining and looked to be on their way home.
However SFA didn’t wilt, continuing to compete and managing to rally against VCU’s dreaded “Havoc” system. A Desmond Haymon (17 points, seven rebounds) four-point play with 3.6 seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime, and SFA would go on to win 77-75 in overtime to move their win streak to 29 games in a row.
Jacob Parker scored 22 points for the Lumberjacks, who won despite committing 17 turnovers with 11 of those coming during the aforementioned 26-5 run. While things certainly didn’t look good for SFA during that stretch, they managed to weather the storm, and when the Lumberjacks didn’t turn the basketball over they performed well offensively.
Stephen F. Austin made 52.9% of its shots from the field, shooting 61.8% on their two-point shots. VCU has been one of the nation’s best defensive teams when it comes to defending the three-pointer, which makes it understandable that Stephen F. Austin shot 6-for-17 from deep. But after beating the VCU pressure the Lumberjacks needed to take advantage of their opportunities inside of the arc, and Parker was the player who proved most capable of doing so.
Now having won 29 straight games, Stephen F. Austin isn’t a team that’s satisfied with winning one game and then heading home. As our own Scott Phillips wrote last month, this is a group capable of accomplishing more than that. And thanks to Haymon’s shot in the final seconds or regulation, Stephen F. Austin will have that chance.