NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Ivan Canete scored 23 points, including 3-pointers at key moments as Stephen F. Austin held off a Southland Conference challenge from New Orleans 78-68 Wednesday night.
Travin Thibodeaux led New Orleans with 24 points before fouling out with 34 seconds remaining, picking up his fourth and fifth fouls in an 18-second span as the Privateers cut a 15-point lead down to two three times late in the game.
The game pitted the winners of the last five regular season Southland championships. The Lumberjacks (14-3, 3-1) had four of those in a row — until last season — and are favored again despite defending champ New Orleans (7-9, 4-1) arriving with a 4-0 conference record.
Stephen F. Austin set a bruising tone early, taking a 15-2 lead that Canete helped start with a 3-pointer, and never trailed, although New Orleans closed to 64-62 with 4:33 to go. Canete canned a dagger of a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.
Stephen F. Austin is 81-3 at home since 2012-13 — best mark in the nation.