Trojans play in OT again, win this time
On Saturday, Jan. 29, the UALR men’s basketball team spotted the Arkansas State Red Wolves to an 11-0 lead in losing 75-64. On Thursday, Feb. 3, the Trojans again spotted a team, this time the Sun Belt Conference West leader Denver Pioneers to a 10-0 lead. This time UALR came away with a 75-72 overtime victory in front of a crowd of 2,612 at the Jack Stephens Center. The Trojans lost to the Pioneers 72-70 in an overtime game earlier in the year when they played at Denver.
“I thought it was a real good team effort,” Trojans’ coach Steve Shields said. “Denver has proven they are one of the top teams in our league. They have a number of guys who can shoot it. They pass it and handle it extremely well. I thought it was a good team win.”
Senior guard Matt Mouzy scored 24 points in 42 minutes to lead the Trojans in both categories while shooting 8-10 from the field, all 3-pointers. Mouzy got his first start of the year in an interesting starting lineup that included four guards, not including leading scorer Solomon Bozeman, and forward Courtney Jackson.
“My teammates did a great job finding me,” Mouzy said. “I remember one specific time, Chuck [Guy] had a shot, he went up in the air and some guy was contesting it. I was in the corner and he kicked it to me. That’s what they were doing all night and that’s how I got my points.”
UALR shot 11-17 from 3-point range for the game and are currently second in the nation to Northern Arizona in 3-point field goal percentage. The Trojans (.4311) are three-thousandths of a point behind Northern Arizona (.4314).
During a 6:34 span in the first half, the Trojans (13-11, 5-4 Sun Belt Conference) went on an 11-2 run capped by a Bozeman layup to make it an 18-17 Denver lead. The Pioneers (11-11, 7-2 SBC) led 30-23 at the half with the Trojans shooting 36 percent from the floor.
Denver opened the second half with a 5-0 run capped by a Tyler Thalken 5-foot jumper with one second on the shot clock to give the Pioneers a 12-point lead. Trojans’ junior guard D’Andre Williams hit a 3-pointer to begin an 18-1 run, giving UALR a 47-40 lead with 9:00 minutes left in regulation.
The Pioneers trailed the rest of the game until sophomore guard Chase Hallam hit a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left to tie it 59-59.
“We’re not the defensive team we’d like to be at this point,” Shields said. “I thought our guys did a really good job of hanging in there. Denver is a tough team to play. They’re really well-coached.”
The Trojans shot 57 percent from the field in the second half and finished at 50 percent for the game. Denver shot 50 percent for the game as well.
Mouzy hit a 3-pointer to open the overtime session, but Denver senior guard Kyle Lewis scored his first bucket of the game with a layup as he was fouled by Williams. Lewis hit the free throw to tie the game 62-62.
It was a back-and-forth affair until Guy was fouled with 18 seconds remaining. He hit both free throws to give UALR a 73-72 lead. Hallam missed a layup and Williams pulled down his first rebound of the game and was fouled. He hit both free throws giving UALR a 75-72 lead with 4.8 seconds left.
Trojan junior forward Eric Kibi missed two free throws with 2.3 seconds left, but Pioneers’ forward Trevor Noonan missed a long 3-point-attempt as time expired to give UALR the victory. Kibi played 25 minutes for the game and all five minutes of overtime after not playing the previous seven games because of an eligibility issue.
“I thought he gave great effort in practice this week,” Shields said of Kibi. “When he first came back, I was disappointed in our team enthusiasm. I always talk to our guys a lot about having pop, effort and enthusiasm.”
Bozeman finished with 15 points, Alex Garcia-Mendoza had 14 points and Williams had 10 points to round out the Trojans with double-digit scoring.
Chase Hallam finished with 22 points for Denver, while his brother Travis had 17 points and six assists. The Pioneers’ leading scorer, Brian Stafford, had 12 points and fouled out with 6:10 remaining in regulation.ot