Trojans Earn Season Sweep Against WKU with 59-54 Win on Saturday

Courtesy UALR Athletics Department

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Trailing 26-25 at halftime, UALR (12-9, 6-4 SBC) held Western Kentucky (11-9, 5-4 SBC) to 28.6 percent shooting in the second half while hitting 60.9 percent of its own shots over the final 20 minutes to earn a 59-54 win at E.A. Diddle Arena on Saturday. The win was UALR’s first true road victory of the season and completes the season sweep against the Hilltoppers, as UALR also defeated WKU 75-67 on Jan. 3 at the Jack Stephens Center. 

“I thought it was a great team effort tonight,” said head coach Steve Shields. “We talked with our team about playing with an edge, about playing with effort and enthusiasm for 40 minutes, and I thought we did a good job of that tonight. After getting beat by 11 on the boards in the first half, I was proud of the way our guys came back and finished +5 on the glass in the second half.”

Saturday’s win over WKU marked the first UALR win at E.A. Diddle Arena since Feb. 17, 2005, as the Trojans overcame a 37-to-31 deficit on the boards by shooting 60.9 percent from the field in the second half and 46.2 percent for the game.

Freshman Josh Hagins led UALR with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go along with six assists and five rebounds. Junior Leroy Isler scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while freshman Kemy Osse came off the bench to score eight points and grab a team-high seven rebounds. Junior Will Neighbour scored eight points and came up with three steals.

Sophomore Michael Javes finished with eight points, five rebounds and two blocked shots, and freshman James White and sophomore Gus Leeper each contributed four points off the Trojan bench. 

UALR led 30-to-12 in points in the paint and held a 16-to-5 edge in bench scoring. In addition to holding the Hilltoppers to 32.7 percent shooting from the field, UALR forced WKU into 18 turnovers, including 10 in the first half.

The Trojans’ defense was able to limit WKU’s T.J. Price, who came into the game averaging 14.6 ppg, to just six points on 2-of-5 shooting. Brandon Harris led Western Kentucky with 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting and George Fant added 13 points and seven rebounds. 

Trailing 29-27 early in the second half, Javes was able to connect on back-to-back buckets in the post to give UALR a 31-29 edge with 16:04 left in the game – its first lead since the 13:29 mark of the first half. The game then went back and forth, with WKU quickly regaining the lead on a Harris three, and UALR tying the score twice before taking the lead for good on a lay in by White that made it 39-38 with 10:59 remaining.

The Trojans lead increased to 45-40 on a jumper by Osse, but WKU got the deficit back to three when Fant knocked down a pair at the line with 7:26 left to go. Two more freebies by Fant with 3:34 left got the Hilltoppers within two, but Hagins answered with an 18-foot jumper before finding Isler under the basket with a 20-foot bounce pass that made it 51-45 with 3:00 left. Fant hit a jumper on the other end to pull Western Kentucky within four, but Hagins countered with a three pointer to get UALR’s lead up to seven, and WKU got no closer than five the rest of the way. 

UALR returns to action when it hosts Florida Atlantic at the Jack Stephens Center on Thursday, Jan. 24, and then travels to North Texas on Saturday, Jan. 26.

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