Press Virginia meets its match, ousted by Stephen F. Austin

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 8:02 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) Press Virginia met its match in Stephen F. Austin, showing the Mountaineers that you don't have to pick up full court to force a ton of turnovers.

West Virginia became the only No. 3 seed to fail to advance past the first round of the NCAA Tournament, falling to Thomas Walkup and the 14th-seeded Lumberjacks 70-56 on Friday night.

Walkup scored 33 points and Stephen F. Austin forced 22 turnovers with its trapping, half-court pressure defense.

''I don't know why anybody would waste energy pressing us,'' Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said. ''We'll throw it to you regardless. That would be a waste of energy really. We're very charitable. We're one of the most charitable groups in college basketball. The second straight game we've turned it over 20 times.''

The Lumberjacks (28-5) ran the nation's longest winning streak to 21 games and will face either six seed Notre Dame or No. 11 Michigan on Sunday at Barclays in the second round of the East Region.

The Mountaineers (26-9) and Lumberjacks played physical, chest-to-chest defense, contesting not just every shot, but every pass. Neither team shot better than 31 percent.

Stephen F. Austin made up for it at the line, going 29 of 39 and by taking care of the ball. The Lumberjacks only turned it over seven times. West Virginia leads the nation at nearly 10 steals per game but had just five against SFA.


''Their play showed how focused and prepared they were, and we just didn't take it serious,'' said Esa Ahmad, who scored 10 points for West Virginia. ''That's what happens in this tournament when you don't take people serious.''

Walkup, the two-time Southland Conference player of the year, took it to the teeth of West Virginia's defense and went to the line 20 times. He made 19, including two to make it 60-47 with 5:15 left in the second after Huggins' griping to officials drew a technical.

When Clide Geffard slammed home an alley-oop to make it 66-54 with 2:40 left, the Lumberjacks' purple-clad supporters roared, knowing the biggest win in program history was all but complete. Walkup added a 3-pointer for good measure.

''It felt incredible. To do that for the team, for the city of Nacogdoches, for the school, for everyone that supported us,'' the senior said.

Making its third straight NCAA appearance under coach Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin won in the first round for the second time.

The Mountaineers from the Big 12 joined No. 2 seed Michigan State and No. 4 seed California as Friday's biggest surprise losers.

''When you don't prepare the right way, not individually, but as a team, if we're not dialed in as a team, that's what happens,'' West Virginia's Devin Williams said.

West Virginia was called for 15 fouls and turned the ball over 12 times in the first half. All the fouls had Huggins and the WVU fans fuming and Stephen F. Austin used 12 free throws - in 19 attempts - to help take a 31-28 halftime lead while shooting 29 percent from the field.


Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks beat VCU in the round of 64 in 2014 for the schools' first NCAA Tournament victory. ... Geffard had 14 points and eight rebounds. ... SFA scored 29 points off turnovers.

West Virginia: Williams, the 6-foot-9 power forward and second-leading scorer, had two points and no field goals in the first half. The Mountaineers hoped to exploit Williams' size in the paint against the undersized Lumberjacks but SFA's double-teams and switches left him with few good looks. Williams' first field goal came off an offensive rebound with 9:58 left in the second half. He ended up leading the Mountaineers with 12 points and 17 rebounds. ... West Virginia had 17 offensive rebounds and beat the Lumberjacks on the glass 48-33.


Stephen F. Austin meets Michigan or Notre Dame on Sunday for a trip to Philadelphia for the East Regional.


in this topic