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UALR Improves to 10-1 at Home with 88-76 Win Over FIU

UALR played its best offensive game of the season, finishing with five players in double figures and setting or equaling season highs in shooting (59.2 percent), assists (21) and made free throws (24), as the Trojans (11-8, 5-3 SBC) beat FIU (8-8, 3-4 SBC) 88-76 Saturday afternoon at the Jack Stephens Center
LITTLE ROCK – UALR played its best offensive game of the season, finishing with five players in double figures and setting or equaling season highs in shooting (59.2 percent), assists (21) and made free throws (24), as the Trojans (11-8, 5-3 SBC) beat FIU (8-8, 3-4 SBC) 88-76 Saturday afternoon at the Jack Stephens Center. Sophomore Will Neighbour and junior Michael Javes paced the UALR scoring attack with 15 points each.

“I thought our guys did a very good job of moving the basketball,” said head coach Steve Shields. “I thought we shared it; I thought we got it to the paint. I felt like coming in that we wanted to get the ball to the high post, and I thought our guys did an excellent job of sharing the basketball in the first half.”

The Trojans finished the game 29-of-49 from the field, and their 88 points scored were the most since they totaled 91 against St. Gregory’s on Dec. 4. UALR finished the night shooting 85.7 percent from the foul stripe (24-of-28), which was also a season best. With the win, the Trojans improved to 10-1 this season at the Jack Stephens Center.

UALR ended the night with a 29-to-25 advantage on the boards, led by seven rebounds from Neighbour and six from sophomore Taggart Lockhart. UALR big men Neighbour and Javes combined for 30 points and helped UALR earn a 42-to-18 advantage in points in the paint.

Making his fourth-straight start at point guard, freshman Josh Hagins scored 10 points to go along with seven assists and finished a perfect 4-of-4 from the foul line. Sophomore Ben Dillard added 11 points in 29 minutes, while freshman James White came off the bench to score 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half. White also tied his career high with three blocked shots.

Lockhart and freshman Kemy Osse scored nine and eight points, respectively, to help UALR to a 35-to-27 lead in bench scoring.

FIU finished the night with six players in double figures, led by Malik Smith who scored 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting.

After UALR grabbed a quick 2-0 lead to begin the game, FIU knocked down consecutive three pointers to take a 6-2 lead, and eventually went up 13-8 on a jumper by Tymell Murphy. A Javes dunk regained the lead for UALR at 17-16, and from there UALR scored 14-unanswerd points and went up 31-16 on a pair of free throws by sophomore Gus Leeper. The Trojans got their lead as high as 19 points in the first half when Hagins converted a pair of free throws to make it 43-24 with 4:21 left in the half. A three pointer by FIU’s Marco Porcher Jiminez with 23 seconds left in the half made it 51-36 as the teams went to their locker rooms.

The Trojans finished the first half shooting 66.7 percent from the floor (14-of-21) and 20-of-22 from the foul line (90.9 percent).

UALR got its lead to 20 in the second half on a trey by Dillard at the 18:00 mark. But the Panthers didn’t go away, pulling with 10 on two occasions, with the latest coming on a pair of free throws by Jerome Frink with 1:02 left to play. Junior Leroy Isler converted on fastbreak layup with 29 ticks left on the clock to bring the game to its 88-76 final.

UALR returns to action next week when it hits the road for a pair of road matchups at Middle Tennessee (Jan. 17) and Western Kentucky (Jan. 19). Both games will be available on ESPN3.
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