|Updated: 1/11 10:58 am
||Published: 1/11 9:35 am
LITTLE ROCK – Trailing 32-27 at the break, UALR (10-8, 4-3 SBC) came out of halftime and shot 60 percent (18-of-30) from the floor and outscored North Texas 40-to-21 over the final 20 minutes to earn a 67-53 win against the Mean Green (6-11, 1-5 SBC) Thursday night at the Jack Stephens Center. UALR improved its home record to 9-1 on the season with the win.
“I thought our guys did a very good job of bringing more energy in the second half,” said head coach Steve Shields. “I just thought we needed to have more urgency to get out and defend in the second half, and I thought we did that.”
Freshman James White led all scorers with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Freshman Josh Hagins chipped in 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting and garnered career bests in assists (8), steals (6) and blocks (2). Junior Will Neighbour narrowly missed his fourth double-double of the season, finishing with nine points, 11 rebounds and a season-high three blocks. Junior Leroy Isler finished with seven points and five steals.
As a team, UALR finished the night shooting 50.9 percent from the field (29-of-57), marking the fourth time this season UALR has hit over half its shots from the floor. The Trojans finished the night shooting 55.6 percent from three-point range (5-of-9), and their 18 assists on 29 made buckets were one off a season high.
The Trojans also played a stellar second half defensively against the Mean Green on Thursday. After allowing North Texas to shoot 48 percent (12-of-25) from the field in the first half, UALR held its SBC West foe to 31.8 percent (7-of-22) over the final 20 minutes. North Texas finished the night shooting 40.4 percent from the field (19-of-47) and 33 percent (3-of-9) from long range.
UALR scored the first five points of the game on a jump hook by sophomore Michael Javes and a three pointer from Hagins, and went up 10-5 on another trey by Isler from the corner at the 14:36 mark. But North Texas came out of the first media timeout and scored three quick buckets to take its first lead, 11-10, with 12:37 left in the half.
The lead would change four more times and be tied six times over the remainder of the first half. With the score at 24-all following a layup by sophomore Ben Dillard at the 4:04 mark, North Texas scored the next four points as part of an 8-to-3 run to close the half and take a 32-27 lead into the locker room.
Trailing by five at halftime, UALR pulled within two on a steal and lay in by Isler at the 13:38 mark and tied the game at 42-all on a driving layup by Dillard just over a minute later. North Texas quickly retook the lead on a jumper by Keith Coleman at the 11:28 mark, but that would be the last time the Mean Green would score until just under seven minutes to play, as UALR locked down defensively and went on a 12-0 run to break the game open.
Freshman Kemy Osse got the run started with back-to-back three pointers to give UALR a four-point lead, while four-straight points by White and a bucket by Hagins put the Trojans up 10, 54-44, with 7:23 left to go.
The Trojans’ lead grew as large as 17 on a drive through by lane by sophomore Taggart Lockhart with 3:27 left.
UALR returns to action on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. when it plays the second half of a doubleheader with FIU at the Jack Stephens Center. The game will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) as part of the Sun Belt Network’s television package, and can also be seen on ESPN3 and ESPN Ful Court.