Three straight losses to end regular season
The North Texas Mean Green defeated the Trojan men’s basketball team 72-69 to end the regular season for both clubs Tuesday, March 1, on senior night in front of a crowd of 3,055 at the Jack Stephens Center. The loss gave UALR the fifth seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Hot Springs March 5-8.
“We did everything except defend,” Trojan senior guard Solomon Bozeman said. “Coach always talks about defending, rebounding and sharing the ball. We didn’t turn the ball over that much and we rebounded. We just didn’t defend tonight and that’s why we lost.”
The Trojans (15-16, 7-9 SBC) out-rebounded the Mean Green 38-31, but gave up 52 percent from the field in the second half and 48 percent for the game. UALR held a 21-4 scoring advantage in second-chance points, grabbing 19 offensive rebounds, but shot 37 percent for the game.
“You have to give North Texas credit,” Trojan coach Steve Shields said. “There’s a reason they got all 12 first-place votes coming in from the coach’s preseason poll. From our standpoint, we can’t give up  percent in the second half and put them on the foul line 23 times and have any success at all.”
Down 22-17 with just under six minutes remaining in the first half, the Trojans went on a 12-2 run, capped by an Alex Garcia-Mendoza steal and layup to take a five-point lead. UALR led 31-30 at the half.
Bozeman hit a 3-pointer to open the second-half scoring and it was a back-and-forth affair the rest of the game that featured 13 ties and 16 lead changes. Down by four with 6:38 left, the Trojans went on a 5-0 run to take a one-point lead, but North Texas senior Shannon Shorter hit a layup with 2:40 remaining to take a 63-61 Mean Green lead and the Trojans never led again.
Shorter led North Texas (19-10, 8-8 SBC) with 24 points (career high) and seven rebounds (season high). Freshman Gus Leeper and junior D’Andre Williams each scored 11 points to lead the Trojans. Junior Eric Kibi had eight rebounds and Bozeman had seven assists to lead UALR.
The Trojans go into the SBC Tournament having lost three consecutive games and play South Alabama at 9 p.m. on Saturday.