Freshmen lead the way, Trojans top Skyhawks
Freshman point guard John Gillon led the Trojans with 22 points as UALR beat the University of Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks 84-68 on Friday, Nov. 9 at the Jack Stephens Center.
The Trojan enjoyed contributions from several of its first year players. In fact, the Trojans had five freshmen score 47 of the team’s 84 points in the first regular season game of their collegiate careers.
The Trojans came out of the gate fast, going on an 11-2 run in the first five minutes of the game. The Skyhawks didn’t wilt, roaring back with an 11-0 run of their own, taking the lead with 11 minutes left in the first half.
UT-Martin would go on a 10-0 run before UALR finished the half with a 15-3 run to close out the half. UALR headed to the locker room up seven points, 39-32
The Trojans built their lead to 13 early in the second half, aided by the play of redshirt freshman forward James White.
White finished with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor, 14 of those points coming in the second half.
UT-Martin was able to cut the Trojan lead to five points with just under five minutes remaining before a three-point play by Gillon and a three-pointer from junior forward Will Neighbour putting the game out of reach.
Despite there being 31.3 seconds remaining in the game, UT-Martin player Terence Smith struck Sophomore Taggart Lockhart with a hard foul. The officials called a flagrant 2 foul on Smith, which results in an automatic ejection.
The 2012-2013 NCAA rulebook for men’s basketball defines a flagrant 2 foul as, “a personal foul that involves contact with an opponent that is not only excessive, but also severe or extreme while the ball is live.”
Neighbour finished with 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the floor and pulled down 13 rebounds.
After the game, Neighbour said he was pleased with the play of his freshman point guard, Gillon. “For a Freshman point guard to come in and do that, I thought that was awesome.”
Lockhart finished the game with 10 points. In his post-game interview, he said he was glad to see the crowd of about 3,800 fans supporting the team in its home opener. “We unloaded some excitement tonight. We’ve been waiting a long time for this first game,” Lockhart said.
Head coach Steve Shields was pleased with the way his team worked together, considering there are so many young players on the roster. “Our guys gave good effort,” Shields said. “I thought it was a total team effort.”
The Trojans hit the road for two games next week against Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss, before returning home to host Milwaukee on Monday, Nov. 19 at the Jack Stephens Center. Tip-off for that game is schedule for 7 p.m.