|Updated: 1/19/2012 9:07 am
||Published: 1/18/2012 10:14 pm
CONWAY, Ark. _ The University of Central Arkansas Bears got their running game going Wednesday night and cruised past the Nicholls State Colonels 99-76 in Southland Conference play at the Farris Center.
The Bears (7-9) had five players in double figures for the first time this season and won their second consecutive game to even their SLC record at 2-2. The Bears got a career high 19 points from junior Robert Crawford and another 19 points from sophomore LaQuentin Miles. UCA rolled to a 53-38 halftime lead, shooting 55.3 percent from the field, including 8 of 13 from three-point range.
“We finally came out in the first part of the first half and played like we are capable of playing,’ said UCA head coach Corliss Williamson. “We turned the pressure up, something we thought we could take advantage of against Nicholls State. And our guys did a great job of following the game plan.’
Crawford, a junior from Broken Arrow, Okla., had his career high by halftime with 16 points, hitting 6 of 8 from the field, including four three-pointers. UCA led by as much as 20 points in the first half on Crawford’s layup with 4:20 remaining. Junior center Anthony Borden slammed in a dunk with nine seconds left but Nicholls got a long three-pointer from Shane Rillieux at the buzzer to make it 53-38 at the break.
The 53 points was UCA’s second-highest first-half output of the season. Nicholls (4-13, 0-5) got 35 of its 38 points from four players, with three scoring nine each and another adding eight.
“The key for us was to try to keep them out of their offense and not get set up, and we were able to do that with our defense,’ Williamson said.
The Bears pushed their lead to a game-high of 33 points late in the second half as they finished just shy of the 100-point mark. They tied their season high with 10 three-pointers, which came in the previous game, a 77-73 win over Northwestern State last Saturday. For the game, UCA shot 52.6 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from three-point range.
“I think one of the reasons we are shooting the ball better is our shot selection,’ said Williamson. “We’re starting to notice where our guys are at their best. When we penetrate, we’re looking for our shooters when they have their feet set. They don’t have to go out and search for a shot. As a result, we’re able to shoot the ball a lot better.
“If we can continue to get these guys to play consistently at this level, play that hard, I think we’ll have an opportunity to be pretty effective.’
Miles, the leading scorer in the SLC, scored 19 points, while Jarvis Garner added 15, Jordan Harks 11 and Dewan Clayborn 10. UCA outrebounded Nicholls 50-37, with Miles pulling down a game-high 10 for his fifth double-double of the season. Sophomore Ryan Williams had a career-high 7 assists and senior Chris Henson had a career-high 3 blocked shots for the Bears.
Sam McBeath led the Colonels with 19 points, while Rillieux added 16 and Linden Smith-Hyde had 15. Nicholls, which lost its sixth straight game, shot just 36.4 percent in the second half.
UCA hosts Lamar on Saturday, a team that beat the Bears 103-67 back on Jan. 7 in Beaumont, Texas. Game time is 4 p.m. as part of a doubleheader with the Sugar Bears, who tip off at 2 p.m.