CONWAY -- An abysmal performance from the free-throw line helped settle things between the University of Central Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
At one point, UALR missed 13 free throws in a row while going 4 of 21 from the line in Wednesday night's 78-65 loss to the Bears at the Farris Center.
"Have you ever seen a team miss 13 straight free throws?" UALR Coach Darrell Walker said. "There it is. That's your game."
The Bears caught fire in the second half to separate from the Trojans. Including UCA's 69-54 victory against the Trojans in December in Conway, the victory was the school's second against UALR since 1973-1974.
"We made just enough plays, and our defense was really good tonight," UCA Coach Russ Pennell said. "I'm happy about that. I'm happy about the win. And happy about just a good overall night for the Bears."
Wednesday was UCA's first home game since Nov. 12 and was the first of two meetings between UCA and UALR in an 11-day span. The Trojans (3-4) will host the Bears (3-4) on Dec. 8 at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
UCA scored 15 of the first 17 points in the second half and stretched a 33-32 halftime lead to 48-34 less than six minutes into the final half.
"We got in a little rhythm," Pennell said.
The Trojans, which lost to the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday and have dropped two in a row to in-state foes, scored four points in the first seven minutes of the second half.
Battling foul trouble, neither freshman center Nikola Maric nor sophomore forward Kris Bankston played more than eight minutes in the first half. The Trojans' depth was taxed.
Without starting freshman point guard Markquis Nowell (sprained ankle), redshirt junior guard Deondre Burns (ankle) and sophomore guard Damir Hadzic (wrist), UALR had nine players available for Wednesday's game and used eight of them.
Bankston, who scored eight points in the first half and none in the second, fouled out with 12:25 remaining in the game. With four fouls, Maric sat for most of the second half and played seven total minutes.
"We're young," Walker said. "And we're not very smart right now."
The Trojans cut UCA's lead to 58-51 with 9:48 to go on Rayjon Tucker's layup. Khaleem Bennett scored four points and Thatch Unruh hit a three-pointer as UCA reeled off the next nine points for a 67-51 lead with 7:45 remaining. The lead did not dip below eight the rest of the way.
UALR shot 40.9 percent (27 of 66) from the floor and made 7 of 25 three-pointers. UCA shot 50.9 percent from the field (27 of 53) and made 10 of 20 three-pointers.
"When you play these guys, it's going to be a street brawl, and you better be ready to put your big-boy pants on and come and play," Pennell said. "I thought for the most part we did that tonight."
Four Bears finished with double figures, including sophomore guard DeAndre Jones (a career-high 23), sophomore center Hayden Koval (15), senior guard Unruh (13) and freshman guard Bennett (10).
Tucker, a junior guard, led all Trojans with 20 points. Junior guard Ryan Pippins chipped in 14 points, but he was 6 of 16 from the floor.
Sports on 11/29/2018
Print Headline: UALR’s FT bricks help UCA pull away