Trojans continue home-winning streak, now 2-0 in SBC
The UALR men’s basketball team used efficient free-throw shooting and big-time contributions from several bench players to secure an 83-58 victory over the University of Louisiana at Monroe on Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Jack Stephens Center.
A crowd of nearly 4,000 fans flocked to the Jack Stephens Center to find out if the Trojans could win their fifth-straight home game and remain undefended against Sun Belt Conference opponents.
ULM got off to a hot start courtesy of a three pointer from Jayon James, who would go on to lead the Warhawks with 15 points and four assists.
UALR sophomore forward Michale Javes answered on the Trojans first possession by demanding the ball on the low post block and knifing his way to the basket to score on the two point shot all while drawing a foul on a ULM defender.
On the next two possessions, ULM accumulated five points and took an 8-4 lead over the Trojans. UALR head coach Steve Shields ordered his players to use full court pressure in order to slow down the Warhawks, but they raced right past the Trojan defense for an easy two point basket.
After the first media timeout, UALR had possession and worked the ball around to sophomore Taggart Lockhart. He dribbled down the baseline and launched himself toward the basket for a floating one-handed jump shot to pull the Trojans within three points of the Warhawks.
The momentum began to shift when junior forward James White had the ball inside the paint and scored the easy two point basket.
On the next UALR possession, sophomore guard Ben Dillard drove down the right side of the lane for a layup. Dillard’s layup would not go down; however, White was near the basket and timed his jump so perfectly that he dunked the ball back inside the goal before anyone else could grab the rebound and the crowd erupted with cheers.
White’s put-back dunk tied the game at 14 and ULM called for timeout.
Dillard began to heat up after the time out, scoring eight points, which included two-three point baskets, and grabbing one steal in the span of about four minutes. The Trojans went on a 10-3 scoring run near the end of the first half and took a 32-27 lead into the locker room.
With 16:28 left in the game, ULM’s Trey Lindsey was called for a technical foul which also counted as a personal foul- his fifth of the game, resulting in disqualification.
This is the point in which UALR increased their intensity and would not allow ULM to get any closer than seven points for the rest of the half.
At the 12:47 mark, UALR was in the bonus, which meant they would shoot free throws each time they were fouled for the remainder of the game.
Just because the Trojans were enjoying a 21 point lead, did not mean they would lower their defensive tenacity. Near the 6 minute mark, in a moment that showcased the discipline Shields has vested into his players, the Trojans held ULM on defense and forced a shot clock violation.
The remainder of the game consisted of free throws and UALR holding the ball to allow the clock to expire as much as possible.
Near the 2:30 mark, Shields sent Ted Crass, a senior team manager-turned-player, into the game to close out the action for the Trojans.
The Trojan bench players contributed 42 points to the Warhawks’ 23. UALR shot 23 of 29 from the free throw line, which is compared to a 7 of 17 output from the Warhawks.
Dillard finished the game with a career-high point total of 17.
Lockhart had nine points to go along with seven rebounds.
Junior Will Neighbour contributed 13 points and 6 rebounds.
After the game, Shields talked about the importance of winning home games.
“It’s good to get out to a good start,” Shields said. “If you’re going to be in a conference championship race, you’ve got to protect your home court.”
Shields spoke highly of his players, saying they work well together and are selfless. “We’ve got a group that is a very young group, that stays together, and doesn’t care who gets the credit.” Shields said. “And I thought that showed tonight.”
After the game, Dillard had an explanation for the early success against SBC opponents. “We’ve been getting a lot closer lately,” Dillard said. “[We're] working harder in practice, you know guys are finding out how people play and we’re playing well together.”
Despite winning by 25 points against ULM, Dillard pointed out the Trojans still have room for improvement. “There’s always the little mistakes,” Dillard said. “We had a few turnovers we didn’t need to have taking care of the ball.”
The UALR Trojans have a non-conference home game against St. Gregory’s Dec. 4, which is scheduled for tip off at 5:15 p.m.