Late First Half Spurt Drops UALR against Western Kentucky, 70-61

Courtesy UALR Athletics Department

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The Trojans cut the deficit to five in the second half and had the chance to pare it even further, but the Hilltoppers came up with the stop and scored six unanswered as UALR (11-7, 4-6 Sun Belt) fell to Western Kentucky (15-3, 8-1 SBC) Saturday afternoon in Bowling Green, Ky.

The Trojans won the battle of the boards 39-26, bench points 23-4 and second chance points 13-6, but Western Kentucky was able to score 24 points off of 24 UALR turnovers. The Trojans shot 45.5 percent (20-44) for the game, compared to 38.6 percent (22-57) for the Hilltoppers. 

UALR was led by sophomore Shanity James’ six points, all in the first half. Sophomore Kiera Clark recorded her third double-digit scoring game of the season, and the second against Western Kentucky, with 11 points.

Freshman Jakeisha Wells came off the bench for 10 points on 3-3 shooting from the field and a 4-4 mark from the charity stripe. She also had game-high in rebounds (seven) and blocks (three).

Four players scored 66 of the Hilltoppers’ 70 points. Bianca McGee tallied 20 while Alexis Govan contributed 16. Chastity Gooch scored 15 and grabbed seven boards while Micah Jones had 13 points. Jones went 3-6 from beyond the arc and 4-4 from the charity stripe. 

Both teams went back and forth early with a high-scoring first six minutes of the game. James scored the first bucket for the Trojans after a lay-up off a pass from fellow classmate Carolee Dillard. Gooch answered back with an offensive put back while being fouled. Gooch split from the line and both teams traded buckets until Western Kentucky led 10-9. James split from the line to tie the game with 14:22 left, but Western Kentucky went on a 7-2 run to take the lead for good.

Down 25-19, UALR responded with an 8-2 run to climb within one. Junior Hannah Fohne hit a mid-range baseline jumper on a pass from sophomore Taylor Gault, followed by a pair of freebies from James. McGee scored a lay-up for Western Kentucky before James grabbed an offensive board and completed the old-fashioned three to bring UALR within 27-26 with 5:18 until break. An old and new triple by the home team around a Dillard lay-up right before break gave the home team a 40-33 advantage at half.

The Trojans tried to cut into the deficit in the second half but could not climb within five. Western Kentucky scored the first four out of halftime thanks to a pair from the line by Govan and Gooch lay-up off a McGee theft. With WKU up 46-35, UALR scored six-straight to pull within five. Sophomore Ka’Nesheia Cobbins scored on a fastbreak initiated by junior Taylor Ford followed by a pair from the line and a lay-up by Wells. UALR trailed by 46-41 with 14:29 left. 

Down 11 later in the half, Gault hit a pair from the line and Merriex hit her only triple of the game from the left corner. However, the home team answered with a three from Jones just seconds later as Western Kentucky led 57-48 with 10:26 left. Clark hit a jumper to bring UALR within 65-59 with three minutes left, but a 5-0 run from the charity stripe pushed the Western Kentucky’s advantage back to double-digits. Wells reached double-digits with 37 ticks left to close out the scoring as UALR fell by nine. 

The Trojans return to action Wednesday (Jan. 23) when they host Florida Atlantic. Tip-off with the Owls is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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