|Updated: 12/29/2011 11:09 pm
||Published: 12/29/2011 11:06 pm
DENTON, Texas – Sophomore Will Neighbour and senior D’Andre Williams scored 19 points apiece on Thursday night to lead the UALR men’s basketball team to a 69-66 win over North Texas (7-7, 0-1 Sun Belt) at The Super Pit. UALR (4-10, 1-0 SBC) snapped a four-game losing streak and picked up its first road win of the season thanks to clutch plays down the stretch by its bench.
Junior Reggie Fondren hit two crucial three pointers over the final 3:32 and freshman Taggart Lockhart delivered a key three-point play with 39.6 seconds remaining to help UALR open Sun Belt Conference play with a 1-0 record.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys for the resiliency they showed down the stretch, with all we’ve been through this year. I thought our guys did a good job keeping their poise tonight in a hostile environment,” said UALR head coach Steve Shields. “The pace was to our liking in the first half. North Texas hurt us a bit in the second half by turning defense into offense, but our guys held it together. We also did a good job on the glass tonight against a team which came in with a plus-six rebounding margin.”
Neighbour recorded his second double-double of the season in the win, finishing with 19 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Neighbour’s 11 boards helped the Trojans to a +5 margin on the glass (37-to-32) against a Mean Green squad which entered the game with a +6.1 rebounding margin.
Williams added 19 points and four assists while going 3-for-4 from three-point range, and sophomore Chuck Guy added 12 points in his return to the starting lineup. UALR shot 52.0 percent from the field in the second half, and finished with a season-high nine three-point field goals after going 6-of-9 from beyond the arc over the final 20 minutes.
North Texas trailed by as many as 10 points in the second half after UALR ripped off a 15-0 run, with 10 points from D’Andre Williams. After being held to 19 points in the first half off a .292 field goal percentage, the Mean Green shot 60.6 percent from the field (20-of-33) over the final 20 minutes. North Texas shot 47.4 percent from the field in the game, but made just 8-of-17 free throws (47.1 percent) and was outscored 20-to-8 at the foul line.
Alzee Williams paced the Mean Green with 14 points off 7-of-10 shooting, while Chris Jones approached a triple-double with eight points, eight rebounds and nine assists. Freshman Tony Mitchell fouled out in just 13 minutes of action, finishing with six points, three rebounds and two turnovers.
Defense set the tone for the two squads in the first half, with UALR taking a 23-19 lead into the break after both squads shot under 30 percent from the field. Freshman Michael Javes gave the Trojans a boost in the first half by scoring six points off the bench on a perfect 2-for-2 effort from the field and a 2-for-2 showing at the foul line.
Trailing 28-23 early in the second half after a successful three-point conversion by D’Andre Williams, the Mean Green rattled off an 11-1 run, with six points from Alzee Williams, to reclaim the lead 34-29 at the 13:31 mark. Down by five, D’Andre Williams scored 10 points as part of a 15-0 run to give the Trojans a 10-point lead, 44-34, with 9:23 to go. Williams hit two three pointers during the run, and Guy added a third as UALR took its largest lead of the game.
UALR’s advantage wouldn’t last long, however, as the Mean Green threw a press at UALR after Brandan Walton hit a three pointer, which resulted in three-straight turnovers by the Trojans. NT scored off all three turnovers as part of a 9-0 run which cut UALR’s lead to a single point, 48-47, with 7:00 left to play.
With momentum on its side, North Texas used an 11-2 run to rally from a four-point deficit, 53-49, and take a 60-55 lead with 4:06 remaining. Down by five, Neighbour scored off an offensive putback and Fondren sank his first three pointer to even things up at 60-all. Tied 62-62, Fondren connected from beyond the arc for the second time to put the Trojans ahead by three, 65-62.
A layup by Roger Franklin brought the Mean Green within a point, 65-64, but Lockhart delivered a successful three-point play to put UALR on top 68-64. Chris Jones answered with a layup on the other end to make it a two-point game, but D’Andre Williams made 1-of-2 free throws with 8.8 seconds remaining to put the Trojans ahead by three, 69-66. North Texas attempted a three pointer in the closing seconds, but the potential game-tying shot was off the mark and Guy came up with the defensive rebound to seal the win.
UALR returns to action on New Year’s Eve when it faces the University of Denver at Magness Arena at 5 p.m. (CT).