With any momentum sawed to numb Thursday night by the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, the University of Central Arkansas men’s basketball team faces a critical juncture Saturday when it takes on Northwestern State (9-5, 3-1) at the Farris Center.
The Bears (5-8) have begun Southland Conference play at 0-3 after the 77-69 loss to league-leading SFA (13-1, 4-0).
“It’s a big game because we need to get a win and get our confidence back,” said UCA coach Corliss Williamson. “And this team (the Demons) are probably the total opposite of SFA. They run a lot of people in and out and like to get up and down the court and maybe that will play in our favor. We need to com out and be really focused.”
The game will begin about 4:30 p.m. — after the women’s game.
KEY STAT: SFA outrebounded the Bears, 42-28. Incredibly, the Bears did not get their first rebound of the game until 12:40 remained in the first half. “For them to be able to keep us off the boards like that is disheartening,” Williamson said. “You can’t win basketball games getting beat on the boards like that.”
RETURN: After missing five games with a hand injury, guard LaQuentin Miles returned to the UCA lineup and led the Bears in scoring with 21 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes.
“Q has kept himself and shape and we felt he could give us a spark we needed,” said Williamson. “We just didn’t get many outside shots (4 of 12 from 3-point range). They did a good job on the ball and rotating and jumping out on our shooters.”
IN A NUTSHELL; The Lumberjacks jumped to a 17-7 lead and maintained a six- to 12-point leader the entire game. The Bears drew within 26-25 late iin the first half before SFA pulled away with a 7-1 run. They got within 66-60 and 73-67 in the second half. Both times, Lumberjack forward Taylor slipped slipped behind the defense for slam dunks to help his team mount mini-runs to pull away.
SMITH: SFA’s leading scorer was 11 of 12 from the field (mostly from short range) and had 23 points and 12 rebounds. “He does a good job in getting position,” said Williamson. “But I was impressed with his passing. He found their cutters for some easy baskets.”