KATY, Texas — Desmond Haymon scored 27 points, DeShaunt Walker made a key steal in the final minute and top-seeded Stephen F. Austin was perfect at the line in the final seconds, keeping the ball away from upset-minded fourth-seed Northwestern State for an 85-78 victory in the Southland tournament semifinals Friday.
The defending-champion Lumberjacks (30-2) roll into Saturday's title game on a 27-0 clip and will face third-seeded Sam Houston State (23-9), which knocked off No. 2 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 69-63 in the other semifinal on Friday.
The Demons (17-14) had been left in the dust by a barrage of Lumberjacks 3-pointers in the first half — Haymon and Walker (15 points) hit four each. But back-to-back 3-pointers by Jalen West capped a 14-2 run to regain the lead 68-65 — their first in more than 21 minutes — with 7:04 to play. West scored a career-high 36.
The final minutes were a battle until Walker stole the ball from West with 54 seconds left and Haymon and Jacob Parker made four free throws.