KATY, Texas – One prolonged scoring drought was too much for the Nicholls State University men’s basketball team to overcome in Friday’s 2018 Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament semifinal game against Stephen F. Austin.

The No. 2 Colonels stayed within striking distance for the opening moments of the first half, but that all changed following a jumper by Roddy Peters at the 15:42 mark. Nicholls proceeded to miss 15 straight field goals that lasted until the 8:13 left in the first half.

Stephen F. Austin took advantage of Nicholls’ shooting woes by going on a 13-2 run to take control of the game. The Colonels were never able to recover and were eliminated from the conference tournament with a 78-66 loss to the No. 3 Lumberjacks at the Leonard E. Merrell Center.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Nicholls head coach Richie Riley said. “We knew that it would be. Stephen F. Austin is the flagship of our conference. Obviously we were a little undermanned with (Tevon) Saddler out, but they have a heck of a team. They have a way of making you not play real well. They defended us at the rim without fouling better than any team we’ve played all season.”

Nicholls played Friday’s without Saddler, the team’s second-leading scorer, who missed the last two games after suffering a knee injury against Northwestern State on Feb. 28.

Following Stephen F. Austin’s run, Nicholls (21-11 overall) tried to climb back in the game and trimmed its deficit to single digits on several occasions. But each time the Colonels made a run, the Lumberjacks (27-6) answered each time and went into halftime with a 37-27 lead.

“They defended us very well and better than most teams had all season,” Nicholls’ Lafayette Rutledge said. “They forced us into some tough shots, and they were not falling. In order to score, you have to put the ball in the air and we just didn’t make enough plays in the end.”

Early in the second half, it was much of the same, as the Lumberjacks continued to keep the Colonels’ offense at bay.

Stephen F. Austin appeared to take control of the game by going on a 10-2 run to take a 55-37 lead with 11:31 left to play.

But the Colonels refused to give up and made a run to climb back into the game. Rutledge (24 points) sank a pair of 3-pointers and Kevin Johnson added another as Nicholls went on a 17-4 run to cut Stephen F. Austin’s lead to 59-54 with 6:41 left to play. Peters (26 points) also added a dunk in the run.

That would be the closest the Colonels would get. The Lumberjacks outscored Nicholls 19-12 down the stretch for the 78-66 win.

Stephen F. Austin’s defense limited the Colonels to a season-low shooting percentage of 28.8 percent (17-of-59).

Shannon Bogues led Stephen F. Austin with 27 points and also scoring in double figures were Ty Charles (17 points) and TJ Holyfield (11 points).

With the win, the Lumberjacks will advance to tonight’s Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament championship game against top-seed Southeastern Louisiana. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2.