After winning the season’s first game, the men’s basketball team lost two straight games, one against the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions and more recently against the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals.
The Bears (1-22, 1-11 Southland Conference) lost to SLU (8-16, 5-6 SLC) 83-58 on Feb. 10, in Hammond, Louisiana, shooting 51.1 percent from the field, while the Lions shot 63.6 percent.
UCA came home to play UIW on Feb. 15.
Despite missing two of their starters, the Cardinals (15-6, 7-4 SLC) beat the Bears 77-67.
UCA took a 2-0 lead on its opening possession against UIW on a layup by junior center Jake Zuilhof.
Freshman guard Thatch Unruh provided the assist on the play.
The Cardinals tied the game on a pair of free throws by junior guard Kyle Hittle.
The Bears went on a 9-1 run in two minutes and 29 seconds, bringing the score to 12-3 with 15 minutes and eight seconds left in the first half.
The nine-point lead was the largest UCA held during the game as the Cardinals stormed back, getting within one point with 7:34 left in the first half.
UIW took a 25-23 lead on its following possession on a 3-pointer by Hittle.
Freshman Jordan Howard said the team struggled making shots, which led to losing the nine-point lead.
“We didn’t make the shots we usually convert on,” he said.
The two teams traded leads on the next couple of possession before the Cardinals went on a 7-2 run in two minutes and 20 seconds, giving UIW a 36-30 lead.
Closing out the half, neither team made a basket during the remaining two minutes and 45 seconds.
Cardinals senior guard Denzel Livingston led all scorers in the first half with 13 points on five of 10 shooting from the field.
He made all three of his attempted free throws.
Hittle finished the first half one point and two rebounds shy of a double-double.
UCA junior guard Mike Martin led the way for the Bears, scoring 11 points on three of five shooting from the field and making four of five shots from the free-throw line.
UIW outshot UCA by 13 percent in the first half.
The Cardinals took advantage of having the first possession of the second half when Livingston hit a jumper, bringing the score to 38-30.
The Bears went on a 6-0 run, making the score 38-36 with 16:28 left in the first half.
From that point, the Cardinals went on a 11-2 run in three minutes and 13 seconds, giving UIW a 49-38 lead.
UCA struggled the remainder of the half, closing the gap to six
points with two minutes and 42 seconds left in the game.
The Bears couldn’t break through the UIW defense, failing to capture the lead and losing 77-67.
UCA shot better from the field in the second half, making 42.9 percent of its shots, while the Cardinals made 50 percent.
Unruh said the team had several good looks, but couldn’t get the shots to fall.
“We got a lot of good looks and that was because we moved the ball,” he said. “We move it, we always get a good shot. We just didn’t shoot as good as I know we can and usually do.”
Howard led the Bears in scoring with 13 points on five of 11 shooting.
He went three for four behind the 3-point arc.
Howard finished the game leading UCA in scoring with 17 points.
Martin finished with 15, and freshman forward Boo Milligan scored 11.
Zuilhof finished two points shy of a double-double, scoring eight points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
For UIW, Livingston continued his strong first half play, scoring 18 points.
He finished the game with 31 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Hittle scored 17 points in the game and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Freshman forward Traylin Farris joined Livingston and Hittle in double figures, scoring 16 points. He also had six rebounds.
The Bears struggled in the paint defensively, giving up 38 points in the paint to the Cardinals.
Following a trip to Natchitoches, Louisiana to face the Northwestern State University Demons on Feb. 6, UCA returns the Farris Center at 4 p.m. Feb. 21 to face the Sam Houston State University Bearkats at 1 p.m.