In a reverse of their first two games of the season, the University of Central Arkansas Bears had their good half first and their bad one after halftime.
The feisty Philander Smith Panthers took advantage of the lull in the second half and defeated the Bears 97-90 at the Farris Center for the first time since the Scottie Pippen era back in 1985.
The Panthers (1-3) shot 57 percent from the field in the second half while the Bears (0-3) were wasting chances at the free throw line, making only 6 of 20 from the stripe. Three PSC guards combined for 71 points, with Ken Brown scoring a game-high 28, Brandon Bell adding 23 and Damarkus Lipscomb chipping in 20. That trio also combined to hit 19-of-23 from the line.
The lone bright spot for the Bears was sophomore LaQuentin Miles, who had a career-high 26 points, with four rebounds, four assists and four steals.
"You want to establish some type of home-court advantage," UCA coach Corliss Williamson said, "knowing that at home you’re going to play well and play hard. You’re going to play for the pride of Central Arkansas, for the bear head on the court.
"We certainly did not do that. We missed an opportunity to set the tone for our season, how we’re going to play at home. We have the next four out of five at home, and hopefully we can turn that around and get it headed in the right direction."
The Bears exceeded their complete-game point total for their first two games in a fast-paced first half, taking a 55-48 halftime lead. The Bears cured their woes from the previous games in the first 20 minutes, with solid shooting and rebounding. The only problem for UCA was turnovers, of which they had 16, allowing the Panthers to score 16 points.
UCA shot a blistering 57.6 percent from the field and made 15-of-19 from the free-throw line (78.9) percent. They entered the game at 38.5 percent overall and 46.5 from the line.
The Bears held a steady lead throughout the half and pushed it to a high of 11 points on a Miles rebound basket with 2:02 to play. Miles, a sophomore transfer from Southeast Missouri, had a career-high 17 points at the half, hitting 6 of 8 from the field and 5 of 6 from the line.
The early part of the second half was OK for the Bears, who took a nine-point lead on three occasions, but the bottom fell out at the 12-minute mark. The Panthers took a three-point lead on Bell’s three-pointer and they never trailed again as they made 13 of 16 free throws in the second half.
UCA also got 13 points from sophomore Ryan Williams, 12 from senior Mark Rutledge and 11 from center Anthony Borden. The Bears won the rebound battle 45-33 but had a season-high 23 turnovers.
UCA hosts Ecclesia at 5 p.m. Tuesday.