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Hunter’s big game not enough for UCA

by Sam Lane | January 19, 2023 at 2:03 a.m.

CONWAY -- University of Central Arkansas guard Camren Hunter made history Wednesday night, but it wasn't enough for the Bears as North Alabama took a late lead and won 78-73 at the Farris Center.

UCA (6-14, 1-6 ASUN) held a lead for 28:20 compared to 7:15 for North Alabama (10-10, 2-5). With 6:29 left, the Lions went on a 10-0 run to take their first lead since the opening minutes of the contest. They held that lead for the remaining 2:18.

Having held a lead for nearly 75% of the game, UCA interim coach Brock Widders said there was a different feel Wednesday from UCA's recent losses.

"It'd be nice to say it's not [more frustrating], but of course it is," Widders said. "We thought that game was in our hands, but a few immature mistakes and a few times we didn't keep our poise really came back to bite us."

Hunter finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists -- all team-highs. With Elias Cato, VJ Reeves and Ibbe Klintman all inactive, four Bears, including Hunter, played 33 minutes or more.

"[Hunter] is a warrior," Widders said. "At the end of the day, he's going to be one of the best to come through this school that's who Cam Hunter is. ... While I'm super happy for him getting a triple-double, he'll be the first to tell you that he'd rather score zero points and win a basketball game."

Hunter's triple-double was the first for UCA since Hayden Koval had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 11 blocks against Houston Baptist in 2018.

Without Cato and Klintman, UCA had to rely on its outside shooting to score. For the majority of the game, that worked. The Bears hit 13 three-pointers and shot 38.2% from behind the arc.

UCA shot 9 of 31 for 29% inside the arc.

"It's hard to adjust in one to two days not knowing who you have," Widders said of UCA's recent injury woes. "It's hard to completely adjust and try to make your great three-point shooters then inside attackers."

Six Bears hit shots from deep, and Collin Cooper (15) Masai Olowkere (14) added double-digit point totals with a combined seven three-pointers.

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