The basketball season really ended for the University of Central Arkansas Bears this time.
The Bears, who got late entry into the Southland Conference men’s tournament because of a re-interpretation of the league’s tiebreaking procedure for the No. 8 seed, put themselves in too big of a hole in the first half Wednesday in a 77-69 loss to Sam Houston State in the first round of the SLC tournament at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.
The Bearkats (20-12) shot 57.9 percent from 3-point range in the first half in building as large as a 19-point lead. It settled to 49-35 at the half.
The Bears, who finished 8-24, fought back furiously as Sam Houston cooled. The Bearkats were only 1 of 10 from 3-point range in the second half, narrowing the deficit to two points on a couple of occasions. Sam Houston pulled away in the last minutes.
Mathieu Kamba, 21 points, and Jordan Howar, 18, sparked the comeback along with Derreck Brooks, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds to finish his UCA career.
The Bears had a 32-18 advantage in points in the paint. The Bearkats had a 16-4 advantage in points off 13 UCA turnovers.
“Even with this loss, I am staying very optimistic about where this team and this program is headed,” said UCA coach Russ Pennell.