HOUSTON — Stung with double defeats at Corpus Christi on Thursday, University of Central Arkansas basketball teams will try to recover here Saturday.
The Bears and Sugar Bears will play Southland Conference newcomer Houston Baptist Saturday afternoon in the second games of a two-game road swing.
The Bears, who have stumbled at the free-throw line all season, had their best effort of the season in a losing cause, 84-73.
UCA, which fell to 6-17 overall and 3-9 in league play, shot 81 percent from the line (17 of 21), but the Islanders hit nine of 15 in the final 4:55 to break open what was a one-point game, 71-70, with five minutes remaining. UCA had four turnovers in that same span and was forced to foul.
“We just couldn’t stop them when we really needed to get a stop,’ said UCA head coach Clarence Finley. “We were so close but we were so far away because we just couldn’t get the stops. We knocked down free throws tonight. We made 81 percent and made some big free throws. And we really scored enough points to win.
“But they just scored too many points in the paint. We had a turnover here, a turnover there. We had a breakdown defensively. There was just a time in the game, when we just had to have a stop, and on numerous occasions, we just couldn’t get them stopped as a team.”
The Islanders (12-14, 9-4) shot 66 percent from the field for the game (33 of 50), including a whopping 73.1 percent in the first half, but could not put away the Bears until the final four minutes. A&M-CC outscored UCA 13-3 in the final 4:55 to sweep the season series.
LaQuentin Miles, a senior guard from Jacksonville, finished with a game-high 25 points, hitting nine of 11 at the free-throw line. It was Miles’ 11th game to score at least 20 points this season in 15 outings.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi used a 3-pointer with two seconds left then held off the University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears in the final seconds, 45-42, Thursday night.
The loss dropped the Sugar Bears into a tie with for the SLC lead.
“I’m disappointed in our performance,” said UCA coach Sandra Rushing. “Our shot selection was awful tonight. We got outhustled, outrebounded, and we’d draw something up in the huddle and they wouldn’t run it. This was absolutely a very disappointing game.”
With the game tied at 42, Courtney Duever appeared to give the Sugar Bears (15-8, 9-3 Southland) a lead with 17 seconds to go, but the basket was disallowed because of a a charging call. On the ensuing possession, the Islanders (13-11, 6-7) reclaimed the lead as Jasmine Shaw stepped back for a 3-pointer with just two seconds remaining.
After a timeout, the Sugar Bears got the ball to Micah Rice for a last-second attempt to tie, but the clock started early, resulting in an officials review after Rice’s attempt missed the mark. The officials put 1.8 seconds back on the clock, giving UCA one more shot to force overtime. Rice’s shot from at halfcourt rolled off the front of the rim, sending UCA to just its second loss in its last nine games.
Duever had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead UCA, getting her 11th double-double of the season. She also added a team-high three assists.