The UCA men’s basketball team finished a three-game stretch over Sun Belt Conference opponent the Troy University Trojans 60-53 on Nov. 26.
The first of the three games saw the Bears (2-4) lose to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (4-1) 94-57 on Nov. 20.
Turnovers hurt UCA early as Louisiana Tech jumped to an early double-digit lead and didn’t look back. The Bulldogs scored 34 points off of turnovers.
The Bears had 16 more turnovers than the Bulldogs for the game. Louisiana Tech out-rebounded the Bears 48-38.
The Bulldogs shot 45.3 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from behind the three-point line, while the Bears shot 35 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the three-point line.
Louisiana Tech led the Bears 47-19 at halftime.
UCA struggled from the field in the first half, shooting 26.92 percent from the field and 14.29 percent from behind the three point line. It was able to turn it around in the second half, shooting 41.18 percent from the field and 53.85 percent from behind the three-point line, but the deficit was too large to overcome.
The Bulldogs were led by junior guard Raheem Appleby’s 21 points. Conway native and senior guard Kenyon McNeail contributed 18 points, six rebounds and six points from the bench for Louisiana Tech.
Senior guard DeShone McClure led the Bears’ offense with 19 points. Freshman forward Jalen Jackson followed with 12 points and seven rebounds in 39 minutes.
The second of three games saw the Bears lose to the Arkansas State Red Wolves (4-2) 99-56 on Nov. 24.
The Red Wolves scored 14 straight points over a span of six minutes and 30 seconds in the first half. They increased their lead to as much as 26 points, leading UCA at halftime 46-20.
ASU didn’t slow down in the second half, as it scored the first 12 points of the second half and shut out the Bears for the first three minutes. The Red Wolves started the half with a 19-5 run before the first media timeout.
The ASU lead reached 46 points in the final minute of the game until UCA junior guard Lennell Brown made a three-pointer with 16 seconds remaining in the game.
Turnovers hurt the Bears in this game too as the Red Wolves’ defense caused 24 turnovers. UCA had foul trouble in the game, with freshman forward Ethan Lee fouling out along with two other Bears who had four fouls.
UCA was outshot 35 percent to ASU’s 49.2 percent.
Five Red Wolves scored in double digits, with senior forward Kirk Van Slyke leading the way with 23 points and nine rebounds.
Brown scored 12 points and was the lone Bear to reach double figures.
The final game of the three-game stretch saw UCA end a three game losing streak when it beat the Troy Trojans 60-53 on Nov. 26.
McClure said the team played well and is focusing on playing hard.
“We are just focusing on winning games and everybody doing what they do best to contribute to more wins,” he said.
The Bears were able to overcome a slow first half, which saw UCA shoot 28.6 from the field and 20 percent from behind the three-point line.
The Bears shot 53.8 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from behind the three-point line in the second half. UCA made six of nine three-pointers in the second half compared to making two of 10 three-point shots.
The UCA defense forced the Trojans to turn the ball over 17 times, which led to 16 points for the Bears.
UCA Men’s Basketball Coach Clarence Finley said the team did a better job of playing defense in this game than other games this season.
“We did a good job with our transition and main defense, which led to better scoring opportunities,” he said.
The Bears largest lead of the game came when Jackson hit his second three-pointer of the game with 2:37 left to play to give UCA an eight point lead.
Senior guard Ryan Williams started for the first time this season and led the Bears in scoring with 13 points. He was three of five on three-pointers for the game.
Senior guard Antoine Myers led the way for the Trojans with 12 points. Junior forward Kevin Thomas added 11 points for the Trojans.
UCA will return home to host the University of Nebraska at Omaha at noon Dec. 7.