CONWAY, Ark. (UCA) -- The University of Central Arkansas Bears completed a four-game homestand with their third win Saturday afternoon, topping the Nicholls State Colonels 79-76 at the Farris Center.
The Bears (8-11, 4-6), playing their second game without leading scorer Jarvis Garner, got contributions from up and down the bench to win their fourth game in their last five outings. Senior guard Robert Crawford led the way with 19 points, hitting 11 of 12 from the free-throw line. Junior forward Jordan Harks had 13 points and 6 rebounds off the bench, while four other players had at least 7 points for UCA.
That balance, which included 32 bench points, offset a 36-point, 11-rebound performance by Nicholls' Fred Hunter. Amin Torres was the only other Colonel in double figures with 10 points.
The Bears, down by as much as 15 points in the first half, fought back to 47-43 at halftime, using a 21-10 run down the stretch. Crawford opened the second half with a three-pointer but the Bears could never wrestle the lead away from the Colonels until freshman Terrell Brown scored inside with 10:41 left to give UCA a 59-58 lead.
Harks made a three-point play and Hunter scored a couple of times inside as the teams traded leads until the Bears pulled out to a 10-point margin on Harks' first three-pointer of the season at the 3:39 mark. The Colonels hung around and cut the deficit to 78-76 on Amin Torres' three-pointer with 12.1 seconds to play.
Crawford then made 1 of 2 at the line and Torres misfired on a three-pointer for the final.
"When you get down,' said UCA head coach Corliss Williamson, "you always worry about getting to that point where you can't quite get over the hump, or get the lead back. Our guys kept fighting and kept fighting. And once we were able to re-take the lead, I thought our guy's confidence continued to build and get better. I'm just proud of our guys because we had a number of guys who stepped up tonight.'
The Bears shot just 42.9 percent from the field in the first half compared to 51.6 for the Colonels. However, they held Hunter somewhat in check with 16 points and 4 rebounds.
"We weren't happy in the first half,' said Williamson, "especially after losing a tough game on Thursday. We thought we'd come out and respond differently and have energy at the beginning of the game. But Nicholls came in an executed their game plan and got the ball inside to Hunter and got things going.
"So we wanted to get back out in the second half and force the tempo, force some turnovers and just attack the basket. When we attack the basket, we're at our best, and we did a much better job of that in the second half.'
Senior center Anthony Borden continued his solid play with 7 points, 6 rebounds and 6 blocked shots. Brown had 9 points and 2 rebounds off the bench, while LaQuentin Miles had 9 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals.
"I thought we did a much better job of getting on the offense glass in the second half,' said Williamson. "We started off small but we ended up going with a bigger lineup more in the second half and we were able to take advantage.'
UCA had six offensive rebounds at halftime but finished with 17. UCA won despite 27 personal fouls that resulted in 32 free throws for the Colonels. UCA was 22 of 31 (71 percent) at the line, hitting 12 of 16 in the second half.
The Bears hit the road next week for games at league-leader Stephen F. Austin on Thursday and third-place Northwestern State on Saturday.