By DAVID MCCOLLUM
LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER
In a flash, a leaping, catch-and-shoot bank shot off an inbounds pass by Southeastern Louisiana’s Roosevelt Johnson seemed simple and effortless.
But the last-second heroics that led to the Lions’ 70-69 victory over the University of Central Arkansas, ending the Bears’ three-game winning streak, was a complex mixture of strategy, maneuvering and luck.
UCA had seemed to secure a victory in the back-and-forth contest when Robert Crawford banked in a 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left.
Southeastern Louisiana (8-11, 6-3) did not have a timeout left, which proved to be a key.
The Lions hurried the ball downcourt, then the Bears’ Anthony Borden blocked a layup attempt by Dre Evans with the ball going out of bounds with 1.9 seconds left.
“Fortunately, we were able to get the ball quickly to our end after the 3-pointer, even though we had a shot blocked,” said Southeastern coach Jim Yarbrough.
With Southeastern inbounding the ball, the maneuvering began with two timeouts by UCA coach Corliss Williamson to get a look at the Lions’ alignment and to change defenders on the passer, which Yarbrough countered after the first timeout.
“We put size on the ball, trying to make it tougher to get off a good pass,” said Williamson.
“I put a taller guy (6-foot-5 Roger Woods) in to inbounds the ball,” Yarbrough said. “We used to run an iso on that play and go behind with a ball screen but that jammed everything up.”
Woods sent a high pass to Johnson, who timed his jump perfectly with a nice shooting touch to produce the game-winner that had a strong degree-of-difficulty.
“Roger did not hesitate in throwing it up there,” said Yarbrough. “I thought he might look and look, but he let it rip. It was fortunate because after they hit the 3-pointer, I thought we were gonna hate ourselves in the morning because we had so many opportunities to take over the game. We had to do it the hard way.”
“We were set up to defend that play but we kind of fell asleep on the ball,” said Williamson, whose team fell to 8-11, 3-6. “We lost a little focus. We didn’t pay attention to detail. It came down to the little things.
“It’s a simple play but it’s hard to defend, especially with someone (Johnson) who is strong, has good hands and can jump. You’ve got to be careful about fouling but sometimes you have to take the risk.”
“We had everybody on one side of the court,” said Yarbrough. “If you double-team, somebody is gonna be wide open. A defender doesn’t want to foul. It’s like a pass to an isolated wide receiver in the end zone in football.”
Johnson, 6-foot-6, had 28 points and 14 rebounds. He began the game with two 3-pointers, his first of the season.
The Bears led 64-58 with 7:19 left, then with 6:29 without a field goal.
“Our shot selection and decision-making was not what we wanted,” said Williamson. “Again, it came down to the little things.”
Crawford led the Bears with 17 points and LaQuentin Miles added 15 and Borden had 13.
The Bears were playing without leading scorer Jarvis Garner, who was serving the first part of a two-game disciplinary suspension.
“It’s tough not to have him considering the way he was playing and how we were jelling,” Williamson said. “But we’ve got to stick by our rules and guidelines and help these young men grow into manhood. He (Garner) made a mistake in judgment and let the team down.”
UCA finishes a four-game homestand against Nicholls State about 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ve got to try to get this loss out of our minds,” said Williamson. “There is still an opportunity to come out of this four-game home stretch with three victories.”
(David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or email@example.com)