BEAUMONT, Texas — The best three-point shooting team in the Southland Conference looked like it Saturday night as the Lamar Cardinals tossed in 14 threes in a 107-72 victory over the University of Central Arkansas Bears at the Montagne Center.
The Cardinals, ahead by just two at the break, distanced themselves from the Bears quickly after halftime to sweep the season series 2-0. Lamar won 99-75 exactly two weeks ago at the Farris Center in Conway.
The Cardinals, who lead the league in three-point shooting at 36.5 percent, made nine three-pointers in the first meeting, and had seven by halftime on Saturday. Lamar (9-9, 3-1) broke open a close game early in the second half, outscoring the Bears 22-2 in the opening seven minutes of the half. That quickly stretched a 42-40 lead to 64-42 with 13:00 remaining.
The Bears (4-14, 0-5) finally broke the drought with a basket by senior guard Mike Pouncy with 12:15 to play, but Lamar answered with another three-pointer, its 10th of the game, for a 67-46 lead. Kendrick Harris made another three to give the Cardinals a 26-point lead with 11:04 left to play. Lamar made nine of its first 12 shots from the field in the second half, including 3 of 3 from three-point range.
For the game, Brandon Davis was 6 of 10 from three-point range and Harris made 4 of 6.
"When a team shoots that well from the perimeter, you can scream and yell all you want to but it doesn’t do any good," said UCA head coach Corliss Williamson. "When you have guys like that who can penetrate and draw the defense, then you have three-point shooters that they have, it’s tough. They were all hitting threes. It just seemed like any shot they put up from three was going in.
"We told our kids the first five minutes (of the second half) were going to be very important. And then we came out and just couldn’t handle it. We just couldn’t score the basketball. We were able to get pretty good shots, we just could not put the ball in the basket. And they were still hitting threes."
The Cardinals nailed seven three-pointers in the first half but the Bears stayed close by dominating inside. UCA had 24 of its 40 first-half points in the paint on an assortment of drives by guards Pouncy, Qahwash and Ryan Williams, and solid work inside by Tadre Sheppard and Terry Tidwell.
The Bears, down by as much as 10 midway through the half, tied the game at 40 on Qahwash’s drive down the middle of the lane with 20 seconds remaining. But Lamar got a rebound basket by Devon Lamb at the buzzer to take a 42-40 lead to the locker room.
The Cardinals shot 51.6 from the field in the first half, but UCA had 22 rebounds to Lamar’s 15, including 10 on the offensive end.
"Offensively, we were working the basketball, scrambling their defense and we were able to get some easy shots," said Williamson. "We were able to drive to the basket and also throw it inside. Our kids did a great job keeping their composure and fighting through a 10-point deficit and finding a way to get back into the game. We felt pretty good about our chances going into the second half."
Pouncy led the Bears with a career-high 16 points, and added 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Williams added 15 points and Sheppard had 13 for the Bears. Three Cardinals combined for 64 points as Harris scored 24 and Davis and Anthony Miles had 20 each. Lamar shot 53.6 percent for the game and 48.3 percent from beyond the arc.
"Anytime you have guys playing their hearts out like that, you want to try to reward them with a win," said Williamson. "It’s a shame we just couldn’t find a way to make baskets."
The Bears return home for consecutive games at the Farris Center. UCA hosts Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday (7 p.m.) and McNeese State on Saturday (4:30) in a doubleheader with the Sugar Bears.