(Photo Courtesy: Steve East/UCA Media Relations)
CONWAY, Ark. (UCA) The University of Central Arkansas Bears used their second-best shooting performance of the season to record their first Southland Conference victory, cruising past Houston Baptist 86-69 on Saturday at the Farris Center.
The Bears (4-9, 1-1) were well above 50 percent from the field for the majority of the game and finished at 50.8 percent. Defensively, they held the Huskies (3-11, 0-2) to just 38.7 percent overall and just 18.8 percent (3 of 16) from three-point range.
"We shot the ball well, but we didn't play as well offensively as we could have,' said UCA coach Clarence Finley. "We didn't get into our sets enough. Every time we got into our sets, we had a chance to score.
"But I thought our defense was a lot better than it had been. We kept them out of the paint. Their big kids got some buckets on us, which we thought they would do, but we kept them off the glass pretty well. I thought we defended better than we did on Thursday against Corpus Christi.'
"But to win by 17 in a conference game and not play as well as you're capable of playing is pretty good.'
The Bears shot 52.8 percent in the first half and did not trail past the 11-minute mark. The Huskies got to within two points with 4:00 to play before halftime, but the Bears closed the half with a 14-2 run, good for a 48-34 lead at the break.
UCA never let HBU get closer than 11 points in the second half, and led by as much as 23 points down the stretch. HBU's Cody Joyce picked up consecutive technical fouls and was ejected with 7:11 to play, with freshman Chasen Williamson making three of the four free throws. Back-to-back dunks by Phabian Glasco and DeShone McClure gave the Bears their biggest lead at 84-61 with 4:13 to play.
Senior guard LaQuentin Miles led the Bears with 22 points, hitting 10 of 18 from the field. McClure, another senior guard, added 19 points, including 3 of 4 from three-point range. Sophomore Tirrell Brown had 13 points and freshman Jalen Jackson added 10.
Caleb Crayton scored 20 points and Joyce added 14 for the Huskies, who lost their first two SLC games as league newcomers.
"It's disappointing to be 1-1 in the Southland Conference because we thought that was a winnable game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi,' said Finley. "Now we have to figure out a way to go get one on the road.'
UCA has an open date Thursday before traveling to Tulsa to take on Oral Roberts next Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Mabee Center.