Trojans swept by ASU
The UALR men’s basketball team lost to the Arkansas State Red Wolves 71-63 on Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro in front of a season-high crowd of 5,836. The win clinched the Sun Belt Conference West division for ASU, along with the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye for the conference tournament in Hot Springs March 5-8.
The Trojans (15-15, 7-8 SBC) started the game on a 7-0 run and led 40-35 at the half, while shooting 58 percent. UALR shot 7-12 from 3-point range in the first half, but were out-rebounded by 15. The Red Wolves (17-14, 11-5 SBC) outscored the Trojans 12-0 in second chance points, but UALR outscored ASU by 10 in points off turnovers to even out the rebounding statistic.
“I knew we had a tough challenge from a rebounding standpoint,” UALR coach Steve Shields said. “Lots of credit to John Brady and his staff. They’re an extremely well-coached team. They played very well defensively.”
UALR opened the second half on a 6-0 run capped by junior forward Eric Kibi’s offensive rebound and layup, and built an 11-point lead with 17:36 remaining in the game. The Red Wolves countered with a 10-2 run the next 3:28 and eventually took the lead 54-52 during a 7-0 run with 4:35 left in the game. The Trojans shot 30 percent in the second half and 42 percent for the game, and shot 4-9 free throws compared to 33-44 for ASU.
“I thought we had some really good looks in the second half, especially early,” Shields said. “Some of those shots that were falling in the first half, weren’t falling in the second half.”
Trojan senior guard Alex Garcia-Mendoza led the team with 15 points, while teammate Matt Mouzy scored 13 points on 4-8 3-pointers. UALR senior guard Solomon Bozeman had 12 points, five assists and three steals.
Arkansas State was led by senior guard Rashad Allison’s 16 points and four assists, while his teammate, six-foot-two-inch sophomore guard Trey Finn, led the team with 13 rebounds while scoring 15 points. Little used senior forward Jeremy Thomas played a season high 29 minutes, contributing 12 points and five rebounds.
“This part of the journey is over today,” ASU coach John Brady said about clinching the West division. “Now we have a week to prepare for another journey. It’s a weekend in Hot Springs.
“If you do that, that journey can take you to a place that [players have] never envisioned, that they’ve never experienced, that they’ve just seen on TV,” Brady said about the possibility of making it to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Sun Belt Conference championship. “It’s in this team’s grasp to have an opportunity to do that.”