SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The Stephen F. Austin men’s basketball team had its memorable season come to an end in a 77-60 loss to 20th-ranked UCLA in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl.
The Lumberjacks (32-3) suffered their first defeat since Nov. 23, to end their 29-game overall win streak, which led the nation after second-ranked Wichita State’s loss to Kentucky earlier in the day.
Sophomore Thomas Walkup recorded his fourth double-double of the season, with a game-high 22points and 11 rebounds, to pace the SFA against the Bruins (28-8). The native of Pasadena, Texas, finished 10-of-17 from the field with two free throws.
Senior Desmond Haymon finished with 17 points, on 3-of-11 shooting, with all coming beyond the arc, and 8-of-10 from the charity stripe, and senior Nikola Gajic finished with 10 points.
Junior Jacob Parker was limited to five points, but pulled in nine boards, seven on the defensive end, in the loss.
UCLA limited the ‘Jacks to 20-of-57 shooting for a 35.1 shooting percentage, a season-low.
The Bruins size played a part in their win, outscoring the ‘Jacks 42-22 in the loss.
The two teams traded baskets in the early going, pulling even on three occasions and two lead changes, with SFA’s last advantage of the game coming at the 16:40 mark when Walkup hit a layup to make it 9-7 ‘Jacks. UCLA answered with a 5-3 run to tie it 12-12, before a jumper by Jordan Adams sparked a 6-0 run for the Bruins to stake themselves out front 20-12 with 11:50 to go.
SFA battled back, with a 5-0 run of its own, to cut the deficit to three points at 20-17 (9:30), before the UCLA pushed the lead to 27-19 on a free throw from Zach LaVine. After a made jump shot from Gajic cut it to 27-21 on the next possession, the Bruins built their lead to as high as 11 points (32-21), eventually taking a 42-32 lead in to the locker room.
In the second half, the ‘Jacks were able to cut the lead to nine points on two occasions, at 46-37 (17:31) and 50-41 (15:36), but the Bruins answered both times to eliminate SFA from the big dance.
The loss caps off an historic season for the ‘Jacks that saw SFA record their first win in the NCAA Tournament and most wins in a single-season in program history at 32. Among the other milestones achieved this season, the three seniors – Deshaunt Walker, Nikola Gajic and Deshaunt Walker – played a massive part in putting the ‘Jacks on the national map.