The University of Arkansas at Little Rock men's basketball team earned its first Sun Belt Conference victory, 71-62, on Sunday over Louisiana-Monroe at the Jack Stephens Center.
The game unfolded nearly the opposite from the Trojans' 77-63 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday night, which provided UALR some resolution before the start of the new year.
UALR (4-11, 1-1 Sun Belt) began Friday's game trailing 18-2 after missing its first five shots. Sunday, the Trojans made its first 4 shots (3 three-pointers) to lead Louisiana-Monroe 11-7.
"All types of energy just rubs off," said UALR junior guard Camron Reedus, who had a team-high 13 points. "If things start going bad, they seem to keep going bad. If things go good, it keeps going good for us. What we've got to figure out as a team is how to get ourselves out of holes if we don't start off too good. That's been our problem. We normally start off pretty bad."
Sophomore guard Andre Jones made a three-pointer from the right corner on an inbound play, junior guard Anthony Black made one from the right wing, and freshman forward Damir Hadzic made another from the top of the key to give the Trojans an 9-2 lead with 18:22 left in the first half.
Black tore the ball away from his opponent on the following possession, which led to a layup by junior forward Oliver Black to go up 13-7 with 15:54 left in the first.
Louisiana-Monroe (6-7, 0-2) called timeout, but the Warhawks made just one of their next 12 field goals.
Meanwhile, UALR continued to build its lead.
Freshman forward Kris Bankston's block turned into a fastbreak layup by Anthony Black, and moments later, Bankston dunked Black's alley-oop pass to put the Trojans ahead 27-14 with 6:43 left in the half.
Another surge of momentum followed when junior guard Ben Marcus made a layup, then stole the ball and dunked on the breakaway to give the Trojans a 34-19 lead with 3:53 left.
The Warhawks finished the first half 6-of-26 shooting (23.1 percent) and were 10 of 13 (76.9) from the free-throw line.
Many of those free throws resulted from overzealous Trojans defenders seeking blocked shots.
Oliver Black blocked a shot, then swatted ULM junior forward Travis Munnings on his way down from a made three-pointer. The free throw trimmed UALR's lead to 30-19 with 4:11 left in the half.
UALR missed its next five shots, a streak that carried over into the second half.
Munnings made two three-pointers to start the second half, cutting UALR's lead to 36-30. The Warhawks drew within 39-37 when senior guard Sam McDaniel capped a 7-0 run with a three-pointer from the left wing and 16:23 left in the game.
The Trojans were no longer making three-pointers, missing six attempts at the start of the second half.
Reedus then made a three-pointer at the top of the key, spurring five consecutive made field goals to give UALR a 55-43 lead with 9:15 left in the game.
Louisiana-Monroe never came as close again.
"I thought for the first time all year we put together pretty much a consistent 40 minutes," UALR Coach Wes Flanigan said. "We've been a group that for the most part has had some lapses, but I thought our guys maintained their composure."
UALR will next play at Georgia State on Thursday.
Sports on 01/01/2018
Print Headline: Fast start sparks Trojans' victory