UALR Trojans Come Up Short in Season Opener


UALR Trojans Come Up Short in Season Opener

LITTLE ROCK – Trailing 72-70 with the ball, the UALR Trojans (0-1) had two opportunities to send the game into overtime. However, the North Florida (1-1) defense held as the UALR Trojans lost their season and home opener 72-70 Monday night at the Jack Stephens Center.

With the Trojans trailing 72-69, Josh Hagins was sent to the line for a pair of free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining. After making the first, the second rolled off the rim but the rebound trickled off the hands of North Florida out of bounds. A three-pointer from Hagins and a jumper by J.T. Thomas fell short at the buzzer.

Hagins led all UALR scorers with 14 points. Leroy Isler finished the game with 12 points, – all in the first half – hitting all five shots from the field. Mareik Isom and Gus Leeper came off the bench for 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The second half was played within a nine-point spread as neither team could pull away. With UALR up 54-52, Hagins grabbed a steal and raced down the court for the fast-break layup. Thomas was then fouled on a shot and hit both free throws to put the Trojans up 58-52 with 11:05 remaining, the largest UALR advantage of the second half.

With the Trojans holding a 61-57 edge, North Florida’s Travis Wallace made a hoop while being fouled. After a UALR miss, Wallace cleaned up a UNF miss and made the layup to give the Ospreys the lead. UNF out-rebounded UALR 41-29 for the contest, including 14 offensive rebounds that led to 12 points.

Down 64-61 with 5:23 left, UALR went to work and retook the lead. Will Neighbour hit a jumper on an assist from Thomas. UNF missed a three and Neighbour was fouled on the defensive glass. He hit both free throws and gave UALR its final lead of the game.

UALR was able to outshoot North Florida 55.2 percent (16-29) to 43.1 percent (25-58), but North Florida hit eight shots to UALR’s six from behind the arc. UALR only had seven turnovers compared to 15 for North Florida, but the Trojans only had an 11-10 advantage in points off of miscues.

Rounding out the UALR scorers, Neighbour chipped in 12 points as five Trojans scored in double-figures.

The Ospreys hit its first three shots for the game from beyond the arc, but UALR ratcheted up the defense and held UNF to 2-9 from the three-point range over the final 15 minutes of the first half. Trailing 17-14 with 13:29 left until break, the Trojans scored 11 unanswered over the next four minutes. Hagins tied the game with a triple before an Isler steal and fast break layup put UALR up two. The Trojans forced a turnover and a jumper and fast break layup by Hagins pushed UALR out to a six-point advantage. Leeper capped the run with a pair from charity stripe with 9:30 left until half.

North Florida pulled within 36-34 before an Isom triple pushed the UALR lead back to five. A layup by Isler was answered by a triple from North Florida’s Dallas Moore. The Trojans went into the locker room up 41-37 before UNF outscored the Trojans 35-29 in the second half.

UALR returns to action Saturday when it travels to Gainesville, Fla., to battle the Florida Gators. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on Sun Sports.