- UALR (15-12, 9-7 SBC) was able to trim its deficit to four with 1:17 left in
regulation and pulled as close as three on a trey by freshman Kemy Osse with four seconds left, but
Middle Tennessee (23-4, 15-1 SBC) went 8-for-8 from the foul line over the
final minute to hold on for the 66-61 victory Saturday night at the Jack
Stephens Center. The loss was just UALR's third home defeat of the season, and
marked just the second time this year UALR fell when holding its opponent below
The Trojans forced the Blue Raiders into 21 turnovers
and limited Middle Tennessee to just 40.8 percent shooting from the field. However,
UALR shot just 39.3 percent from the floor, committed 17 turnovers of its own
and connected on just 59.1 percent of its foul shots (13-of-22). The Blue
Raiders hit 24-of-29 free throws on the night.
Javes and Ben Dillard led the Trojans
with 12 points apiece. Javes added three blocked shots to increase his career
total to 75 and move into a tie with Gilbert
Maxwell (1979-81) for sixth place on UALR's all-time blocks list.
Gillon added nine points, seven of which came after halftime, and came up
with three steals. Classmate Josh Hagins
scored all seven of his points after intermission. Junior Leroy Isler added eight points and four rebounds. Junior Will Neighbour grabbed game-high eight
Marcos Knight led Middle Tennessee with 15 points.
Bruce Massey and Raymond Cintron each scored 11, and Kerry Hammonds chipped in
10 to give the Blue Raiders four players in double figures.
Trailing by double digits for most of the second half,
UALR cut its deficit to nine on a Hagins three pointer with 3:42 to play, then trimmed
the margin to six on a trey by Gillon just 32 seconds later. A pair of free
throws by Cintron pushed MT's lead back to eight. But after Isler made the
first of two free throws, the miss on his second attempt was rebounded and put
back by Neighbour to make it a five-point game with 2:00 to play.
Gillon made one of two at the line to get the Trojans
within four with 1:17 on the clock, but Cintron again responded with a pair of
made free throws to push MT's lead back out to 58-52. Javes then made one of
two at the line for UALR, and then it was Knight's turn to knock down a pair of
freebies for the Blue Raiders. Hagins beat a pair of MT defenders to the rim to
make it 60-55 with 32 seconds remaining, but a Knight dunk on a run-out all appeared
to seal it for Middle Tennessee. Trailing by seven, Osse scored off an
offensive rebound to get UALR's deficit to five, but Cintron again knocked down
2-of-2 to keep Middle Tennessee up by seven.
On UALR's next possession, Gillon was fouled and made
his first free throw before intentionally missing the second. Osse secured the
rebound and connected on a deep three pointer from the top of the key with two
seconds remaining, but any hopes of a UALR comeback were dashed when Cintron
completed his perfect 8-for-8 night from the foul line by making two with just
over a second to play.
Both teams combined for 49 fouls between them on the
UALR trailed 28-18 following a first half that saw both
teams commit 12 turnovers each and combine to shoot 31.9 percent from the
floor. Middle Tennessee shot 39.1 percent (9-of-23) but knocked down 9-of-12
free throws, while UALR finished the half shooting 25.0 percent from the floor (6-of-24)
and hit 5-of-6 at the line.
The Trojans started the game with a 2-0 lead following
a finish in the lane by Isler, and led 6-3 after another strong finish by the
Brooklyn, N.Y.-native at the 16:06 mark. Middle Tennessee provided a solid
answer, rattling off nine-straight points to go up 14-8 on a couple free throws
by Knight with 9:20 left in the half. MT went up 10 on an old-fashioned
three-point play by Massey with 5:59 on the clock and grew its lead as large as
12 on three separate occasions over the final five minutes. After Gillon
knocked down two free throws with just under a minute in the half, Knight
scored the half's final bucket with 31 seconds left to make it 28-18 heading
into the locker rooms.
UALR outscored MT 24-to-18 in points in the paint, and
21-to-11 in points off turnovers. The Blue Raiders led 23-to-16 in bench
Next, UALR hits the state of Florida for a pair of road
games. The Trojans play at FIU on Thursday, Feb. 21, and then take on Florida
Atlantic on Saturday in Boca Raton.