Still, OU clawed its way back into the game, using a 12-0 that started midway through the second half and ended with Je’lon Hornbeak’s 3-pointer with 4:40 to go. The basket gave OU a 52-51 lead.
Hornbeak and Steven Pledger led OU with 12 points apiece. Pledger’s last basket came on a jumper from the corner with 2:28 left to tie the game.
It was the Sooners’ last make from the field.
Hal Bateman, who scored 13 points, hit a pair of free throws with 64 seconds left to give the Lumberjacks the lead for good.
Stephen F. Austin didn’t win because it shot lights out. It connected on just 24 of 61 attempts. But it kept OU (7-3) from running or getting any easy baskets. That is the Lumberjacks’ calling card. They lead the nation in scoring defense (49.5 points a game).
“This is how you beat teams that are bigger, stronger and faster,” Stephen F. Austin coach Danny Kaspar said. “You don’t get in a running game with them. You just ride it out and hope you have a chance to win in the end. We got a Christmas present when he missed that free throw.”
Nonetheless, it wasn’t a missed free throw that doomed the Sooners. Prior to Tuesday, they made a habit of winning ugly games. This time they ran into a team that’s better at it than they are.
John ShinnFollow me @email@example.com