MOREHEAD, Ky. — Despite a record-setting night by junior guard Jordan Howard, the University of Central Arkansas Bears dropped a 111-85 contest to the Morehead State Eagles in non-conference action at Johnson Arena.
Howard, from Chandler, Ariz., became the school’s all-time 3-point leader, hitting a career-high eight to pass Marcus Pillow (2006-09). Howard now has 210 career threes with at least 19 games remaining in his junior season.
However, the Eagles (3-8) matched Howard’s perimeter shooting heroics and then some, connecting on 18 of 35 shots from beyond the arc for 51.4 percent, better than UCA’s overall shooting percentage (45.3). Junior Mathieu Kamba added 17 points and six rebounds for the Bears, but the Eagles countered with six players in double figures and scored a season-high in points.
“I’m really disappointed for my guys,” said UCA head coach Russ Pennell, whose team dropped to 1-11. “I thought we got out-toughed and out-hustled more than anything else. And you can look and say they made 18 out of 35, but if we don’t guard the basketball better, it doesn’t matter if we’re playing man, zone, whatever. We’re just doing a poor job defensively and it’s really frustrating because we’ve probably spent 60 fo 65 percent of our time in practice on the defense.”
The Bears trailed only 51-44 at halftime, despite the Eagles shooting 55.6 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes. Howard had five 3-pointers and 21 points at the break.
“I actually thought we were in pretty good shape, getting to halftime down seven,” said Pennell. “I thought we’d come out with a look, and man we just… I told our staff, I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m having a really hard time putting my finger on what exactly is the issue. Because I do think we’re talented enough, I think we’re good enough. It’s disheartening.”
Howard, who set the UCA single-season 3-point mark with 95 last season, passed Pillow’s record of 206 threes in the first half. He finished 8 of 14 and added five assists. The 3-pointers broke his own single-game career high of seven.
“That’s something that will stand for awhile,” said Pennell. “I hope we break it because it means we have another pretty good shooter coming in. Jordan puts it out there every night. I talked with him the other day about being more of a playmaker and I thought he definitely was tonight, and yet his scoring actually went up.’The Bears (1-11) continue their road trip at Pac-12 Arizona State on Thursday. Tipoff is 2 p.m. (CT) from Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Ariz.