Stephen F. Austin tops Northwestern State 85-78

The Associated Press
Stephen F. Austin tops Northwestern State 85-78
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Northwestern State's Gary Stewart (44) drives to the basket as Stephen F. Austin's Dallas Cameron (12) attempts to block his shot during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinal round of the Southland Conference tournament Friday, March 14, 2014, in Katy. (AP Photo/Bob Levey)

KATY, Texas (AP) -- 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.