The University of Central Arkansas Bears did a lot of things right Thursday night in knocking off the second-place Sam Houston State Bearkats, 80-71, in front of a crowd of 1,378 at the Farris Center.
UCA (7-19, 4-11) had four players in double figures, led by senior guard LaQuentin Miles with 24 points and 12 rebounds, his eighth career double-double. Miles scored 13 points in the first half, leading the Bears to a 38-34 halftime lead. They never trailed in the second half as fellow senior DeShone McClure scored 11 of his 14 points after halftime.
It was UCA's first victory over Sam Houston in the 12th career meeting.
"I think the guys really did pay attention to detail tonight," said UCA coach Clarence Finley. "Coach (Chris) Sartorius did a really good job with the scouting report. We had their personnel down to a T. I thought we made some great adjustments late in the game. We were able to contest shots and just give them one shot. And we didn't foul the 3-point shooters late in the game."
The Bearkats, who had a five-game winning streak broken last week, cut a 15-point deficit with 12:45 to play down to just four points at the 3:00 mark. But UCA answered with a three-point play by Daouda Berete and three free throws from DeShaun Rice to push the lead back to eigh tpoints at 76-68 with 1:11 left.
From there, junior Lenell Brown made two at the line and Miles turned in a big blocked shot on Paul Baxter's 3-point attempt with 20 seconds left. Brown put the final touch on the win with a slam dunk in the final seconds as UCA broke a four-game losing streak.
UCA will host the Lamar Cardinals for Senior Day at 4 p.m. Saturday.