VALLARTA, Mexico - UALR (4-3) fell by a score of 74-62 to
South Carolina (5-1) in the finals of the Hoops for Hope Classic Sunday night
at the Puerto Vallarta Convention Center. Junior Will Neighbour finished the game with a season-high 19 points on
8-of-12 shooting and was named to the Hoops for Hope All-Tournament Team in a
UALR dug itself into a deep hole in the first half,
falling behind 39-22 at intermission thanks to a 9-of-26 effort from the field
(34.6 percent) and a -17 rebounding margin (25-to-8) over the first 20 minutes.
The Trojans rallied to outscore the Gamecocks 40-to-35 over the final 20
minutes, but it was too late to overcome the early deficit and South Carolina's
+15 rebounding advantage (40-to-25) on the night.
South Carolina's offense played well throughout the
contest, finishing with 74 points on 56.0 percent shooting (28-of-50) from the
field - a season-high shooting percentage for a UALR opponent. Brenton Williams
led the Gamecocks with 17 points on the night, while Lakeen Jackson led USC
with 15 rebounds.
Neighbour reached double figures in scoring for the
fourth-straight night and was the only Trojan to score 10 or more in the
contest. The Grayshott, England-native also paced UALR with five rebounds, two
blocks and two steals.
Gillon scored nine points, all via three pointers, and junior Leroy Isler added eight. Freshman James White finished with six points,
four rebounds and two steals, and freshman Josh
Hagins scored three points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out two
assists. Sophomore Michael Javes
ended the night with seven points and three rebounds.
The Gamecocks led from the get-go, going up 2-0 on a
layup by Eric Smith just under two minutes in and racing out to a 12-5 lead by
the 14:27 mark. South Carolina grabbed its first double-digit lead of the game
when R.J. Slawson hit a shot in the paint to put South Carolina up 25-14.
Still up 11 with two minutes remaining in the half, USC
ended the half on a 6-0 run thanks to three pointers by LaShay Page and
Mindaugus Kacinas to take a 17-point lead into halftime.
The Gamecocks' lead grew as large as 27 when a trey by
Brenton Williams made it 55-28 at the 13:01 mark of the second half. UALR got
the deficit down to 17, 69-52, on a three pointer by freshman Kemy Osse at the
3:44 mark, and went on to oustcore the Gamecocks 10-3 over the final three and
a half minutes to get the game to its 74-62 final score.
UALR returns to action when it kicks off Sun Belt
Conference play Thursday night as part of a doubleheader against Troy at the
Jack Stephens Center. The women are scheduled to begin at 5:15 p.m., and the
men's tip is set for 7:30 p.m.