The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff didn't get its usual high-scoring performance from Martaveous McKnight on Saturday, but the senior guard delivered when the Golden Lions needed him the most.
McKnight scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half, including nine during a key six-minute span, to power UAPB to a 75-66 victory over the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in the championship game of the upper division of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Holiday Classic at the Jack Stephens Center.
"He's our leader, and he played like it down the stretch," UAPB Coach George Ivory said of McKnight, the Southwestern Athletic Conference's reigning player of the year. "Sometimes I think he's too nice, and that's hard to say about a player when he's scoring as many points as he does. But he's a great kid that works hard, and I think a lot of people saw that tonight."
McKnight, the nation's third-leading scorer at 29.6 points per game, was coming off a 40-point outing in the Golden Lions' 115-107, triple-overtime victory over California-Baptist on Friday, but UAPB didn't need another Herculean effort from him against its in-state rival.
Senior forward Charles Jackson finished with a game-high 21 points, including 6 three-pointers, while sophomore forward Shaun Doss added 18 for UAPB (2-4), which shot 27 of 65 (42 percent) from the floor while snapping a 10-game losing streak to UALR.
Freshman center Nikola Maric had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Trojans, whose inconsistent play on both ends of the floor cost them.
"We got just what we deserved," UALR Coach Darrell Walker said. "It's real simple: They came in and they beat our butts. We came out with no fire tonight, and the effort wasn't there.
"We missed shots, and our guards were bad. But give UAPB credit, they came in here and just beat us."
Freshman guard Markquis Nowell scored 13 points, and sophomore forward Kris Bankston had 12 points and 9 rebounds for UALR (3-3). The Trojans, who shot 59 percent a day earlier in a victory over Howard, were 26-of-56 shooting (46 percent), but were 4 of 19 (21 percent) from the three-point line.
The Golden Lions led for the duration of the first half, yet never created separation despite taking 11 more shots than the Trojans. UAPB shot 14 of 36 (39 percent) from the field compared to 13 of 25 (52 percent) for UALR, but of the Golden Lions' 14 baskets, 8 were three-pointers. The Trojans misfired on all six of their three-point attempts and trailed 38-31 at halftime.
The Trojans grabbed a 14-13 lead after Nowell's steal and layup with 12:08 to go in the first half, but Jackson and McKnight knocked down three-pointers during an 8-0 run that allowed the Golden Lions to build a seven-point lead. UALR tied the game at 27-27 after a dunk from Bankston with 3:27 left before UAPB scored 11 of the next 15 points, with Jackson burying a 27-footer at the buzzer.
"[UAPB] shot the daylights out of the ball," Walker said. "They outhustled us, got the 50-50 balls. They came out ready to play from the start, and it showed."
UALR tied the game at 45-45 on Ryan Pippins' three-pointer with 15:04 showing. Maric's putback one trip later gave the Trojans a 49-47 lead, their first since the 12:04 mark of the first half.
But McKnight began to heat up from the outside, and the rest of the Golden Lions followed suit. His 15-footer started a 20-2 run that turned a two-point deficit into a 67-51 lead.
"This one is very big, especially for our program," Ivory said. "We came out and played hard. We're playing on the road so much that when we finally get a chance to play close to home, we showed up and played well.
"We got big games from Jackson and Doss, and that helped us tremendously. So to win a game of this caliber shows that we're a pretty solid team."
EASTERN ILLINOIS 90,
ARKANSAS STATE 86, OT
Sophomore Josiah Wallace hit a jumper with :02 showing in regulation, then scored 10 of his team's 13 points in overtime as the Panthers rallied for a victory over the Red Wolves in the Battle in the Blue Ridge Tournament at the U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, N.C.
Wallace finished with a game-high 31 points.
Arkansas State University(1-4) led 32-24 at the half and by 11 (53-42) with 11:17 remaining before Eastern Illinois (3-2) made its run.
Wallace hit a free throw with 1:10 left in regulation to give Eastern Illinois a 75-73 advantage, but a layup from Ty Cockfield -- who led ASU with 24 points -- with 54 seconds left to tie the game. Free throws by Grantham Gillard with 33 seconds showing, then Tristin Walley with nine seconds, set up Wallace's game-tying shot.
Eastern Illinois never trailed in the extra period, taking the lead for good at 81-80 on a free throw by Wallace with 3:08 left.
Cockfield was 9 of 15 from the floor for the Red Wolves, who finished 27 of 66 (40.9 percent). Eastern Illinois was 29 of 61 (47.5 percent) from the field.
Junior Malik Brevard came off the bench to add 13 points and a team-high 10 rebounds for ASU. Marquis Eaton scored 10 points.
Eastern Illinois has won its past three games by a combined seven points, two of which went into overtime. Arkansas State suffered its third consecutive loss.
ST. LOUIS 73,
CENTRAL ARKANSAS 61
Poor shooting and rebounding doomed the University of Central Arkansas on Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.
St. Louis guard Javon Bess scored 19 points to lead a balanced scoring effort for the Billikens in a victory over the Bears at Chaifetz Arena.
Central Arkansas (2-4) missed 11 of its final 12 field-goal attempts and finished 20 of 56 (35.7 percent) from the floor. The Bears were also outrebounded 47-24.
Deandre Jones scored a game-high 22 points, hitting 7 of 11 shots, but no other Bear scored more than eight points.
The Bears scored the game's first two points but never led after the opening minute. St. Louis led 34-30 at the half.
Jordan Goodwin added 18 points for St. Louis (5-1). Tramaine Isabell added 13 and Carte'Are Gordon 10.
Thatch Unruh grabbed a team-high seven rebounds for the Bears, who suffered their third consecutive loss.
Sports on 11/25/2018
Print Headline: Golden Lions handle Trojans