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The University of Arkansas at Little Rock let one slip away Tuesday.

Bradley made just two shots in the opening 14:35 and scored 21 points as the Trojans accumulated a 27-21 halftime lead.

UALR squandered its first-half advantage and allowed the Braves to linger long enough to hand the Trojans a 68-62 loss Tuesday at the Jack Stephens Center after scoring 47 points in the second half.

"You suffocate them defensively for the whole first half," UALR Coach Darrell Walker said. "I'm not bragging, but we should've been up at least 12-15 points. But you hold them to 21 points. And then you come out in the second half and give up 47 points."

The Trojans (4-5) held Bradley (7-3) scoreless for the first seven minutes of the first half. The Braves missed their first seven shots and did not score until senior forward Luuk Van Bree rattled in a free throw with 12:45 to go to snap a string of 12 unanswered points by the Trojans.

Bradley's first two made shots were three-pointers with 10:32 and 5:25 remaining in the first half, with the second one cutting UALR's lead to 20-10. The Braves shot 5 of 26 in the half and made eight free throws, but they found themselves down by only six.

The lead was not large enough to absorb UALR's second-half defensive meltdown.

"Our defensive effort went from here," Walker said with his hand held high, "all the way down to nothing."

A three-pointer with 15:41 to go in the second half from Bradley sophomore forward Elijah Childs forged a 33-33 tie. Less than 30 seconds later, after the 16th of UALR's 20 turnovers, Childs had a breakaway dunk to put the Braves in control.

"Just defensive intensity," said junior forward Rayjon Tucker, who led all Trojans with 15 points. "There's nothing else to say."

Bradley increased its lead to 65-53 with 1:28 left on Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye's layup.

"We came out in the second half very soft defensively, there's no doubt about that," Walker said. "I saw it in the beginning and I looked down at my staff and said, 'We don't have any life right now.'

"I don't know why we didn't have any life. We just played so well defensively against a very good basketball team to hold them to 21 points, and now we don't have any life at all."

UALR continued its struggles at the free-throw line, making 10 of 22. It was the Trojans' sixth game under 60 percent from the line, and their third game under 50 percent this season.

After nine games, UALR is shooting 57.3 percent from the free-throw line. Entering Tuesday, 57.3 percent was the fifth-worst shooting percentage among Division I schools.

"You know what, I don't know," Walker said about solving his team's free throw woes. "There's no remedy except to keep shooting them. It's nothing I can do as a coach. At the end of the day, you have to walk up there and make your free throws."

ARKANSAS STATE 87, EVANSVILLE 77

Ty Cockfield scored 24 points on 7-of-20 shooting Tuesday to lead Arkansas State University to a victory over Evansville in front of 1,037 at First National Bank Arena in Jonesboro.

The Red Wolves (3-5) and Purple Aces (4-4) exchanged the lead five times in the first half before Arkansas State took control. A three-pointer by Cockfield with 10:30 left in the half started a 7-0 run over 2:19 to take a 21-15 lead.

Evansville fought back later in the half to take a 29-28 lead with 4:30 left on two free throws by Marty Hill, but a 10-0 run over the next 2:30 gave ASU a 38-29 lead. The Red Wolves would hold a 43-33 lead at halftime.

Arkansas State shot 45.2 percent (28 of 62) from the floor, including 9 of 24 three-pointers, and hit 22 of 26 free throws. Evansville shot 39 percent from the floor (22 of 56), but hit just 6 of 23 three-pointers. The Purple Aces were 27 of 34 from the free-throw line.

The Red Wolves outrebounded the Purple Aces 41-30 and outscored them in the lane 38-30.

Tristin Walley had 14 points for Arkansas State, which travels to Minnesota on Saturday. Shea Feehan led Evansville with 21 points, while Hill had 16 and K.J. Riley added 15.

Sports on 12/05/2018

Print Headline: Trojans squander good defense early

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