'Jacks give SFA fans a nail-biter: Team scrapes out overtime victory in second Big Dance appearance

Published on Friday, 21 March 2014 22:02 - Written by Betty Waters blw@tylerpaper.com

High-spirited Lumberjack fans whooped, clapped and hollered their support at Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Tyler Friday to cheer Stephen F. Austin State University’s team in the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament.

Lumberjack fans and alumni in the Tyler area gathered for a watch party to see how SFA fared in San Diego in the second-round match against Virginia Commonwealth University.

Tables and booths were packed with fans watching huge TV screens while munching on wings and drinking beer.

SFA was making its second NCAA tournament appearance in program history, having last earned a berth in 2009.

“Everybody is pretty excited,” Cody Coe, of Tyler, a 2007 SFA graduate, said. “I see them going at least to the Sweet 16.”

Marian Creag, of Tyler, also an SFA alumna, said, “I’m so proud that they have entered at this critical point in the tournament. I’m cheering real loud.”

It seemed like a lot of fun to come watch the game with other SFA people and have a good time at Buffalo Wild Wings, Tom Ward, of Tyler, said.

Sarah Ward, who graduated in 1983, added, “We’re very excited to cheer the ’Jacks on.”

Susan Scott, of Tyler, said she came because she just thought the party would be fun.

Casey Johnson, of Tyler, said she wanted to come because “I’ve never been to a watch party” and she was enjoying eating and cheering.

“I wanted to come here and watch it with some of the other graduates and be a part of history in the making,” Thomas Snoddy, of Longview, who has a business in Tyler, said.

Sitting with friends, Denise Abrams said, “We came to watch and cheer on SFA.”

Jabmin C. Lau, of Tyler, who graduated in December, said, “I enjoyed being at SFA and the traditions that they have there, and since I’ve been gone, I’ve missed it and I really wanted to come (to the watch party) to be in the SFA environment.”

Matthew Carrillo, whose wife is an SFA graduate, said they saw a notice about the watch party on Facebook and came out to support the team.

Gregg Davis, of Tyler, said, “We’re excited about SFA being in the tournament.”

Greg Ortiz, of Tyler, a 1977 graduate, said he just wanted to show support for the SFA team.

Craig Turnage, executive director of SFA alumni association, said the watch party was publicized to alumni in the Smith County area to come watch the game and spread the purple pride.

“We’ve got a lot of alumni in Smith County and we are really backing the Jacks,” he said.

Brian Tuttle, a 1972 alumnus, said, “I’m proud of my alma mater. SFA provides a lot of good education for East Texas and I’m proud to be a Lumberjack.”

SFA won, 77-75 in a thrilling overtime victory.