TULSA, Okla. – After scoring just nine points in the first half, the UALR women’s basketball team came to life in the second half at Oral Roberts on Friday and stole a victory from the home team.
Taylor Gault hit a baseline jumper from the right side of the court with just six seconds left, capping a UALR rally from 11 points down in a 53-51 victory at the Mabee Center on Saturday evening.
Trailing 39-28 midway through the second half, UALR (3-2) used an 18-4 run to take the lead for the first time in the game. The Golden Eagles (1-5) fought back, though, tying the contest at 51-51 after making one of two free throws with 35 seconds to go.
The Trojans brought the ball up the court and gave it to Gault, who arced through the paint and drained a jump shot from the right side to put UALR with six ticks left.
“I was shocked, but I knew I had to get back on defense to stop them," Gault said of her game-winning shot.
And get back on defense she did. As the Golden Eagles came up the court, Gault leapt in front of a Christian Key pass, falling to the ground with the ball in her clutches and screaming as the buzzer sounded.
“I was just happy we won, obviously," Gault said. "It wasn’t a good win. We didn’t have a good game. I was just shocked that I got the steal. It was pretty exciting.”
Taylor Ford led the Trojans with 14 on 4-of-8 shooting, and Shanity James extended her streak of double-figure scoring games to 11 with 12 points. Gault scored 11 and moved into sole possession of eighth all-time at UALR in points. James and Kaitlyn Pratt has six rebounds apiece, while Hannah Fohne – playing in her first game of the season after missing the first four due to a back injury – had two points and two rebounds in 12 minutes.
The victory was head coach Joe Foley’s 200th in his 14 years at UALR, but that victory seemed unlikely after a first half that saw the Trojans score just nine points – the smallest total in Foley’s tenure in Little Rock. UALR shot 11.5 percent from the field (3 of 26) and turned the ball over 19 times in the first 20 minutes.Still, the defense held Oral Roberts to just 18 points, keeping UALR well within reach at the break.
“We started driving the ball more in the second half," Gault said. "We pretty much could get any shot at that point. We broke the defense down when we drove, but in the first half we were pretty stagnant. We didn’t have any intensity.”
It took the Trojans only five minutes to double their first-half total of nine points. Ford, Gault and Fohne all scored, cutting a nine-point Golden Eagles lead to just five at 24-19 with 15:30 left in the game.
The home team’s lead stayed in single digits for the next few minutes before a Christian Key 3-pointer made it 36-26 halfway through the period. The Golden Eagles got their lead up to as many as 11 before the Trojans started chipping away.
Down 39-28, UALR started their huge 18-4 run that put them ahead 46-43 with three minutes to go. The Trojans had not led all game to that point. James and Clark had six points each in that six-minute stretch while Pratt, Gault and Ford had two points each. Multiple players drew offensive fouls and forced the Golden Eagles into bad shots, and ORU had two turnovers during the Trojans’ run.
The game was not over yet, though, as Oral Roberts tied the game at 48-48 on a 3-pointer with two minutes to go. Gault matched that play with a 3-pointer of her own on the other end, giving UALR a 51-48 lead with 1:40 left. That was followed by another Golden Eagles basket to make it 51-50, and Atoe’ Jackson hit one of two free throws to knot the game at 51-51 and set up Gault’s last-second heroics.
The victory extends the Trojans’ winning streak in the series to two games and improves UALR to 2-2 all-time against the Golden Eagles. Saturday also marked the Trojans’ first victory over Oral Roberts in Tulsa.
The first half was marred by poor shooting and double-digit turnovers by both sides. After the first UALR basked 2:30 into the evening, both teams went scoreless for the next 5:23. The highlight during that stretch may have been the appearance of UALR senior Hannah Fohne for the first time this season. Despite missing the first four games with a back injury, she looked strong early, grabbing an offensive rebound and drawing a foul. Carolee Dillard finally broke the scoreless streak when she put back an offensive board to make it a 6-4 ORU lead, but the teams again went on a lengthy scoring drought.
The Golden Eagles got a basket two minutes later to double their lead, and the next score did not come for another three minutes. The Trojans broke a seven-minute scoreless stretch with two Ford free throws, but ORU answered right back and kept their lead at 11-6. Pratt has the only other basket for UALR in the half, and ORU made two baskets in the final minute to take an 18-9 lead into the break.
The Trojans continue their three-game road stretch when they travel to the Lone Star State for a Wednesday night matchup against Texas. Game time is set for 7 p.m., and the contest will be televised on the Longhorn Network.
· Joe Foley got his 200th win at UALR.
· Taylor Ford is now fifth all-time in defensive rebounds.
· Taylor Gault moved into sole possession of eighth all-time at UALR in scoring
· Shanity James scored her 300th career point.