TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands – Junior Ben Dillard scored a career-best 18 points to lead four Trojans in double figures as UALR (4-6) topped Jacksonville State (5-9) 75-70 in game one of the BVI Tropical Shootout at the Multi-Purpose Complex. The Trojans will face the winner of Southern Miss and Coppin State on Saturday at 7 p.m. (CST).
UALR never trailed in the game, but was unable to pull away from the Gamecocks, who came back to tie the game at 60 on a 3-pointer by Avery Moore with 5:54 remaining. Senior Leroy Isler drained a triple on UALR’s next possession to break the tie, but Jacksonville State refused to go away. The Gamecocks got the deficit to back down to one on Teraes Clemmons' trey from the top of the key with 3:25 remaining.
UALR pushed its lead back up to three on two free throws by Dillard, then went up four on another free throw by Isler. After a JSU free throw, two more at the charity stripe by Neighbour at the 1:34 mark put UALR up five. Dillard’s final two of the game gave the Trojans a seven-point cushion with 14 seconds remaining.
Sophomore Josh Hagins chipped in 16 points and grabbed six rebounds in 33 minutes. Senior Will Neighbour tallied his third double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore James White finished a point shy of his second career double-double with nine points and a career-high 12 boards. Isler scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
The Trojans finished the night shooting 51.0 percent from the floor (14 of 27) and 66.7 percent from long range (8 of 12). UALR struggles at the foul line, however, hitting just 15 of 24 on the night (62.5 percent).
Jacksonville state shot 46.0 percent from the floor (23 of 50) and 44.4 percent from 3-point range (8 of 18), but hit just 53.3 percent of its foul shots (16 of 30).
UALR led 36-30 following a first half that saw the Trojans shoot 51.9 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from 3-point range.
The Trojans raced out to an 8-1 lead and didn’t allow a Gamecock field goal until a layup by Darion Rackley 6:13 into the game. However, that bucket began a 6-0 run that pulled Jacksonville State within one on at the 13:29 mark of the first half.
With UALR leading by five, Dillard checked into the game for the first time and immediately made an impact on the offensive end. His 3-pointer with 9:04 left in the half pushed UALR’ s lead to eight, while a baseline jumper on the next possession put the Trojans up 10. Following a trey by Williams on the other end, Dillard answered with a 3-pointer of his own to push UALR’s lead back to double digits at 25-15 with 7:16 left in the first half.
Jacksonville State crept back into the game over the next few minutes, pulling within four on a layup by Grant White and getting as close as two on a pair of occasions, the final coming on layup by Williams with 2:45 left in the half. That would be the last field goal of the half for the Gamecocks, however, as a tip-in by Isler got UALR’s lead back to four, and a 3-pointer by Osse pushed UALR’s lead to six with under two minutes in the half. Neighbour hit two free throws to close the half to give UALR’s lead back to six heading into the locker room.