The University of Central Arkansas men began the game with 9-0 run against Southland Conference leader Stephen F. Austin.
It went downhill from there.
The Lumberjacks (18-2, 7-0) took the wallop, then dominated the Bears (4-14, 1-6) in almost every category in a 66-49 victory at the Farris Center, the fifth straight defeat for the UCA men.
The Lumberjacks outrebounded the Bears 39-20, forced 20 turnovers and limited UCA to d6 shots in a 66-49 victory. The Bears’ Achilles’ heel all season, free-throw shooting, hurt them again as they made only 14 of 27. The Lumberjacks only hit 14 of 25 free throws but took 15 more shots.
UCA has never beaten the Lumberjacks in 11 tries.
“They are an excellent, well-coached and well disciplined team,” said UCA coach Clarence Finley. “Even when we were up nine, I was worried. We were mixing up our defenses and had them confused a little. But they are going to make shots and make runs. We mixed ”
The Bears, who turned in one of their best efforts of the season for 30 minutes, trailed 37-32 with 14:02 left when 6-foot-6 post Jacob Parker, who scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds, slipped in for an alley-oop, Thomas Walker hit from the baseline and Parker made a hustle play on a rebound and hit two free throws to put the Lumberjacks up, 43-34.
The Bears crept within six points on a finger-roll basket off a drive by DeShone McClure and a stuff by LaQuentin Miles, then guard DeShaun Walker, who had 19 points, hit back-to-back 3s as the ‘Jacks pulled away for good.
“Every time we made a run, they seemed to get a 3 down or get a basket down low when we didn’t box out and get a body on someone down low,” Finley said. “When you play SFA, they are going to constantly play defense and get a body on you. We made some turnovers throwing the ball to an area rather than a player, and you can’t throw the ball to an area against SFA.”
Miles, who had 23 points, was the only UCA player in double figures.
UCA now goes on the road for games against McNeese State and Nicholls State.
“We can beat any team in the Southland Conference if we come out focused like we did tonight,” Finley said.