CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas _ The University of Central Arkansas Bears got hot from the perimeter in the second half and shot down the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders 76-67 on Saturday afternoon at the American Bank Center for their first Southland Conference victory of the season.
UCA (6-10, 1-5) was 8 of 12 from three-point range in the second half, after going 2 of 14 in the opening 20 minutes. Senior forward Jarvis Garner followed a three-point first half by scoring 20 points after halftime to lead the Bears with 23. UCA shot 54.8 percent from the field in the second half and made 10 of 13 at the line to seal its first win over Corpus Christi since joining the league in 2006-07.
"We looked at the first-half stats and we only had 24 points,' said UCA head coach Corliss Williamson. "I told our guys, we're a better offensive team than that. We're preaching defense but we know we can score the basketball. And we took great shots in the second half. That was the difference in the first half, when we only made 2 of 14 (from three-point range), and when we were able to knock down eight in the second half.'
The Islanders (2-14, 1-5) hit 8 of their first 12 shots from the field to take a 20-12 lead on the Bears in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Bears, who shot just 28.1 percent from the field in the first half, fell behind by as much as 11 points at the 8:00 mark but cut it to 27-22 on an inside basket by Jordan Harks with 2:34 to play.
But the Islanders nailed their fourth three-pointer of the half and outscored the Bears 7-2 down the stretch to take a 34-24 halftime lead. UCA was just 2 of 14 from three-point range in the half.
"You go in at halftime and you're down 10,' said Williamson. "We had to make sure our guys didn't have the mentality that, here we go again. We had to try and rally them and challenge them, and they came out and stepped up and played well in the second half. Just the emotion in that locker room right now is great. It's something we can build on.'
UCA came out in the second half and put together an 11-1 scoring run to get to within two points at 42-40. The Islanders made consecutive threes to pull ahead 48-40 but UCA did not go away. Garner nailed a three and another jumper and Lenell Brown made one from the deep corner to give the Bears their first lead, 52-50, wtih 7:55 to play.
Down the stretch, Crawford made two more three-pointers and Crawford added one more. Garner's two free throws with 2:40 to play gave the Bears their biggest lead of the game at 67-58. LaQuentin Miles made a pair at the line and added a fast-break dunk, and Garner tipped in a missed free throw to seal it.
Joy Williamson topped the Islanders with 15 points, while Nate Maxey added 13 and Hameed Ali 12. UCA held the Islanders' top scorer Will Nelson to just 9 points on 4-of-14 shooting. Garner was 8 of 14 overall and 3 of 7 from beyond the arc. Crawford was 5 of 12 from three-point range, while Miles had a team-high 4 assists. UCA had only 7 turnovers.
"In the second half were able to find Jarvis when he was open,' Williamson said. "The first half I thought we forced some shots. In the second half we started driving the ball and finding the open man. And Jarvis really came alive for us.
"Rob didn't shoot it well in the first half but he knocked down some big shots in the second half. Q continued to attack and put pressure on their defense, and also got some assists. '
UCA returns home to host four consecutive games at the Farris Center, beginning Thursday against McNeese State. Game time is 7:30.
Steve East: UCA Media Relations