Bears Win in Double OT, Secure First SLC Tourney Berth

Courtesy University of Central Arkansas Athletics Department

BEAUMONT, Texas _ The University of Central Arkansas Bears secured their first Southland Conference Tournament bid on Thursday night, but it took double overtime to get there.

Senior Robert Crawford scored 30 points and junior LaQuentin Miles added 19 points as the Bears downed the Lamar Cardinals 106-99 at the Montagne Center. UCA was battling Lamar for the final spot in the eight-team field, and had never won in Beaumont. 

Crawford, a senior from Broken Arrow, Okla., carried the Bears for much of the game, hitting 7 of 9 from three-pointers, but fouled out at the 2:08 mark of the first overtime. The scoring load then fell to a bevy of Bears, with Miles hitting the biggest shot, a three-pointer from the top at the buzzer to send the game to a second overtime.

The Bears (5-11, 11-16) dominated the second extra period, outscoring the Cardinals 15-8. Sophomore Oliver Wells made a three-pointer and Miles converted a three-point play to put the game away midway through the second OT. 

“It’s a great feeling and it’s an honor for us and this team to be the first one to represent UCA men’s basketball in the Southland Conference Tournament,’ said UCA head coach Corliss Williamson. “I’m very proud of my guys for finding a way to win this game tonight.

The Bears trailed by as much as eight points with four minutes left in the first half, but then ended with a 10-0 scoring run. Crawford nailed back-to-back long three-pointers and junior guard Ryan Williams was fouled on a three-point attempt with just .5 seconds remaining. Williams made all three to give the Bears a 37-35 advantage at the break. 

Crawford was 4 of 5 from beyond the arc in the first half. 

“To see our guys come into that locker room, you could see they were excited,’ said Williamson. “They were really focused and wanted to come back out and compete and find a way to win.’ 

UCA extended the scoring streak to 21-0 early in the second half and led 48-35 on Jarvis Garner’s dunk with 17:00 to play. But the Cardinals, who had lost 14 of their past 15 games, fought back and led by as much as five points down the stretch in regulation before Miles made a jumper to tie it at 75-75. Lamar missed and Garner misfired on a three-pointer at the buzzer. 

In the first overtime, Lamar led by as much as four points but UCA, down 91-88 with 3.7 seconds left, got the ball to Miles at the top and he connected. Miles entered the game just 5 of 23 from three-point range (21.7 percent).

“Robert Crawford had fouled out by then and we tried to set up a play for Jarvis Garner,’ said Williamson. “Rob and Jarvis are normally the ones we want taking that shot. We set up a play and unfortunately Jarvis wasn’t open. And our next option was Q and he was able to get the basketball, turn and knock down the shot.

“He thinks he’s a three-point shooter. But I’ll take that one over any other shot he’s hit all year long.’

LaQuentin Miles hits three-pointer to send game to second OT 

UCA jumped ahead 96-91 in the second overtime before Lamar scored and eventually pulled away to their biggest lead of the game.

“That gave us a little cushion and gave us a little confidence,’ said Williamson. “Our guys were confident and we were able to close it out. I thought down the stretch, our guys were able to make some really big plays and our conditioning really came into play.’

UCA also got 13 points from Garner and 10 points and 8 rebounds from senior center Anthony Borden. Rhon Mitchell topped Lamar with 25 points as five other Cardinals also scored in double figures. Amos Wilson had 19, while Stan Brown had 17 points and 13 rebounds.

UCA plays at McNeese State on Saturday, then finishes the regular season at home against Oral Roberts on March 9.


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