KATY (AP) — Matt Kingsley scored 20 points and Stephen F. Austin earned the program's first NCAA tournament berth with a 68-57 victory over Texas San Antonio on Sunday in the Southland Conference championship game.
Josh Alexander and Eddie Williams added 16 points each for the top-seeded Lumberjacks (24-7), who have won eight straight games. Stephen F. Austin won the league's regular-season title last season, too, but lost to Northwestern State in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Devin Gibson scored 23 points for the sixth-seeded Roadrunners (19-13), who made a surprise run to the title game after losing five of their last seven games in the regular season.
The Lumberjacks had the Southland's top defense during the regular season and held Texas-San Antonio to 36 percent shooting in the second half. The Roadrunners led the league in 3-pointers during the regular season, but were 7-for-27 from 3-point range on Sunday.
Gibson hit three 3-pointers in the first 9 minutes to give Texas-San Antonio the lead.
Travis Gabbidon, the Roadrunners' second-leading scorer, twisted his right ankle on a drive and left the game with 10:22 left in the first half. Omar Johnson scored on Texas-San Antonio's next possession for a 22-17 lead.
Stephen F. Austin then surged ahead with a 9-0 run, holding the Roadrunners scoreless for 7 minutes. Texas-San Antonio missed five straight shots and had four turnovers before Morris Smith's layup with 3:40 left in the half to cut the Lumberjacks' lead to 26-24.
Gabbidon returned, but Kingsley had four points and two assists late in the half to help Stephen F. Austin build a 37-28 lead.
Williams opened the second half with a driving layup to push Stephen F. Austin's lead into double figures for the first time. The Roadrunners missed five of their first six shots after halftime.
Gabbidon hit a 3-pointer with 14:41 left to cut the Roadrunners' deficit to 44-36, but Alexander scored twice and Kingsley rattled in a shot from the baseline to keep the Lumberjacks in control.
Williams converted two steals into fast-break layups, and Stephen F. Austin led 54-43. Texas-San Antonio pulled within six, but Williams drove for two more layups to stretch the lead back to 10.
Gibson hit two free throws and drove for a basket to launch a last-ditch Roadrunners' rally. But Alexander converted a fast-break layup with 2:01 left and Texas-San Antonio got no closer than seven the rest of the way.