Taking advantage of the poor shooting percentage of the University of New Orleans Privateers (6-13, 2-8 Southland Conference), the UCA Bears (1-19, 1-8 SLC) the season’s first game 70-67 Feb. 7.
Freshman guard Thatch Unruh said he was happy to get the season’s first win.
“Finally getting the payoff of really hard work felt great, and I was glad to be able to do it with all my guys,” he said.
After winning the opening tipoff, UNO junior forward Kevin Hill was blocked by Unruh.
Unruh went on the fast break, hitting a jumper in the paint and giving the Bears a lead they would not surrender for the game’s remainder.
Following a block by Privateers freshman guard/forward Colton Weisbrod on UCA junior center Jake Zuilhof, Hill tied the game on a layup after getting an offensive rebound.
The Bears broke the tie on a layup from freshman guard Jordan Howard.
UCA missed an opportunity to go up by four when freshman forward Boo Milligan missed a shot.
The Privateers freshman guard/forward Michael Zeno grabbed Milligan’s miss and turned it into two points on a jumper, tying the score at four.
The Bears broke the tie for the final time in the game on a layup by Zuilhof, bringing the score to 6-4.
UCA increased its lead to four on a pair of free throws by junior guard Mike Martin.
UNO sophomore guard Tevin Broyles brought the Privateers within two after a layup.
Following Broyles’ score, the Bears went on a 12-4 run in three minutes and 37 seconds, giving them a 20-10 lead with 9:43 left in the first half.
The Privateers pulled within four after a 6-0 run with 8:18 left in the first half.
The Bears didn’t let the run get to them, however, increasing their lead by 18 with 4:05 left in the half.
This was the largest lead the Bears held in the half, finishing out the half with a 36-24 lead.
UCA outshot UNO 52.2 percent to 26.8 percent from the field for the half.
The Bears held the advantage from the free-throw line, shooting 12-15 from the line, while the Privateers made two of six shots from the line.
Howard said defense was the main cause of the big first half.
“Coach [Pennell] emphasized the importance to get stops and that’s what we did,” he said. “We held them to 36 percent shooting, and we kept composure and were able to pull out the W.”
Howard led all scorers in the first half with 14, while shooting four of six from the field and six of seven from the free-throw line.
Neither team made a 3-pointer in the first half, despite shooting from behind the 3-point arc six times combined.
The second half was a different story for both teams, however, as the Privateers outscored the Bears 43-34.
UNO cut the Bears’ 12-point first half lead down to eight, starting the second half on a pair of makes by senior forward Terrance Syon.
The Privateers struggled, allowing UCA to get its lead back up to 15.
The Bears held a double-digit lead for most of the second half, until UNO went on an 11-0 run, bringing the score to 66-63 in UCA’s favor with 3:03 left in the game.
The game became tied at 67 for the first time since early in the first half when senior guard Tevin Brown made a pair of free throws with one minute and 57 seconds left in the game.
UCA scored the remaining three points on free throws, winning the game 70-67.
Zuilhof and Hill led all scorers in the second half with 10 each.
Zuilhof finished the game with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Howard finished the game leading all scorers with 20 points on six of 11 shooting.
Martin was the third Bear in double figures with 15 points. He added four rebounds and four assists.
The Privateers had three players reach double figures with Broyles leading the way with 16, followed by Hill and Brown, who each had 12.
Following a road game against the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions Feb. 10, the Bears will play the University of the Incarnate Word at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 in the Farris Center.