Even when the University of Central Arkansas Bears went forward, they were shoved backward Saturday afternoon.
Trailing by six against Northwestern State, the Bears produced one of their best offensive flurries of the season in the second half, scoring on six straight possessions.
Unfortunately for them, the Demons’ Gary Stewart hit three straight 3-pointers and Shamir Davis added another. So, in the midst of UCA’s offensive flurry, the Bears watched a six-point deficit become 11 with 13:29 left.
That was pretty much the deciding factor in the Demons’ 100-88 victory at the Farris Center, one which kept UCA at the bottom of the Southland Conference standings at 0-4.
The Demons (10-5, 4-1) stayed among the league contenders.
“In the first half, we did a pretty good job in our zone getting out of their shooters,” said UCA coach Corliss Williamson, whose Bears fell to 5-9. “Then came a time in the second half, one of our bigger guys didn’t get out in time; they hit the 3-pointers, then went inside and got a couple of other three-pointers and it took the air out of us.”
“That (Stewart’s flurry) was a huge part of the game,” said NSU coach Mike McConathy. “We’re getting 3-point baskets but they are scoring at the other end but we are exchanging two for three. Both our teams play the same style and you never know what will happen when the same styles clash. We hit 30 of 37 at the foul line and that was another big key.”
Robert Crawford, nine of 11 from the field, led UCA with 22 points. LaQuentin Miles added 21. Jarvis Garner, after being held scoreless the first half in which UCA trailed 48-37, scored 18 points the second half in sparking the UCA rally.
“Early on, we took some tough shots and they got some long rebounds and got out in transition,” said Williamson, whose team trailed by 20 early in the first half. “We got momentum going more on our side going into halftime. We seem to get to a certain point and can’t figure out a way to get over the hump.”
“I sincerely believe they (the Bears) are as talented as anybody we have played all year long,” said McConathy, whose Demons lost 79-61 to the University of Arkansas earlier in the season.
The Demons are coming off playing seven games in 14 days in four states (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas). It was the first time NSU has scored 100 points in a conference game since 2005.
UCA is now facing a road swing next week at Sam Houston State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.