UALR beats ASU, wins West Division title
UALR prevailed over ASU 62-60 to win the Sun Belt Conference West Division Title on Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Jack Stephens Center.
With the game knotted at 60, ASU’s Marcus Hooten missed a jumper to win and UALR (15- 15, 12-4 Sun Belt) was able to corral the rebound. Sophomore Chuck Guy made a skip pass ahead to senior Tramar Suther- land who was fouled on a layup attempt.
“Coach put it in our hands,” said senior guard D’Andre Wil- liams. “He just told us, ‘if we get a rebound, let’s go, let’s run’ and we made the best of it.”
Head coach Steve Shields said he was proud of how his guys handled the last play of the game.
“We had one timeout left,” he said. “I said, if we get the stop right here, I don’t want to use the timeout. I want to push it as quick as we can.”
ASU called their final timeout to ice Sutherland and set up their offense for the final shot.
“I was just trying to stay calm,” said Sutherland “I was just trying to remain calm, practice my whole routine and just knock them down, for the sake of the team.”
A 58 percent free-throw shooter on the year, the shots were anything but a given. However, Williams said the team never doubted Suther- land’s ability to make the shots.
“We just believed in him, we knew he was going to make them,” he said. “We believe in each other.”
Asked what Shields said to
him coming out of the timeout, Sutherland was quick to praise his coach.
“He just told me ‘Tramar, no pressure, we’ve been here before, we’re going to win this,’” he said. “He put confidence in all of us.”
UALR (15-15, 12-4 Sun Belt) trailed the entire second half before Sutherland’s free throws put them up for good.
The Trojans led 15-10 at the
9:42 mark in the first half before ASU went on a 20-5 run to close out the half up 30-24 go- ing into the locker room.
The Red Wolves had a 9-3 run to open the second half and led 39-27 with 16:25 left in the game before the Trojans countered with a 10-0 run to cut the lead to two at the 12:38 mark.
Shields said he wasn’t concerned when the team got down in the second half.
“I’ve been a firm believer all along that toughness wins,” he said. “This basketball team is a tough-minded, resilient bunch of guys.”
ASU would never lead by more than five points the rest of the way but the Trojans were never able to gain the upper hand until Williams drove down the right side of the lane and put up a floater off the glass that tied the score at 60.
Jackson finished with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and had eight rebounds and three assists. Williams led the Trojans with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Sutherland finished with nine points while sopho- more Will Neighbour had a team-high 10 rebounds.
UALR will play next on Sunday, March 4 at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Hot Springs.