The University of Central Arkansas Bears took control early in the second half Tuesday night and grabbed their first victory of the season, beating the Ecclesia Royals 90-75 at the Farris Center.
The Bears (1-3) used a 13-0 run early in the second half to pull away to what looked to be a comfortable 26-point lead. Freshman guard Carlin Bremner scored seven straight points, capped by a 3-pointer at the 14:30 mark, that gave the Bears a 63-39 lead. LaQuentin Miles led UCA with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
The Royals made a small run late in the game with some long-range shooting but the Bears held on for the 15-point win.
"Anytime you get that first win, you have to feel good about it,’ said UCA head coach Corliss Williamson. "Like Coach (Nolan) Richardson always said, ‘a raggedy ride is better than a smooth walk.’ I’d rather be out here a little upset with a win than with a loss."
Miles, a transfer from Southeast Missouri, scored 12 points in the first half as the Bears enjoyed leads of as much as 16 points in the opening 20 minutes. UCA pulled down 34 rebounds in the first half, including 17 on the offensive end.
After the Bears went up 27 on a dunk by Miles, the Royals (3-6) nailed six 3-pointers over a five-minute span to keep the margin around the 20-point mark. Brandon Brzozkiewicz made five of those from long range and finished with a team-high 18 points. Ecclesia made 8 of 15 (53.3 percent) from beyond the arc in the second half.
But the Bears shot did just enough down the stretch to earn their first win and top their season scoring average by 25 points.
"We haven’t developed, and I know it’s an old cliche, a killer instinct," said Williamson. "Anytime you get a team down, you have to find a way to keep them down. You have to keep doing the things that allowed you to get that lead. We don’t have that yet."
The Bears won the rebound battle 59-43, pulling down 28 on the offensive end. However, UCA only turned those boards into 16 second-chance points. The Bears did force 19 turnovers and scored 27 points from that effort.
"You look at 28 offensive rebounds and all we could come up with was 16 points," said Williamson. "That’s very frustrating. We’re going to have to go back to work in practice. The coaches and I have talked about having to get out the dummy pads and push our guys around a little bit.
"We have to finish those shots. Anytime you can get 28 extra shots at the basket, you have to come up with more than just 16 points."
Junior center Terry Tidwell of Conway had 12 rebounds and Miles had 11 for the Bears. Junior forward Jarvis Garner, another former WampusCat, added 15 points and sophomore guard Ryan Williams scored 11.
The Bears continue their homestand on Saturday with a 4 p.m. matchup against Eastern Illinois at the Farris Center.