Fresh off their first win of the season, the University of Central Arkansas Bears will try to make it two straight Saturday when they host the Eastern Illinois Panthers at 4 p.m. at the Farris Center.
The Bears (1-3) defeated Ecclesia College 90-75 on Tuesday night, with sophomore forward LaQuentin Miles scoring a game-high 24 points and pulling down 11 rebounds.
UCA now faces an Eastern Illinois team that stands 3-1 overall with consecutive victories over Loyola-Chicago (65-61), Northern Illinois (67-55) and Eureka College (87-56). The Panthers are averaging 72.8 points per game, led by Jeremy Granger at 15.3 points per game and Alfonzo McKinnie at 11.5 points and 6 rebounds per game.
"They are a team that is going to work the ball," said coach Corliss Williamson, in his second season at UCA. "We’re going to have to sit down and defend in the half court, for 30 or 35 seconds on the shot clock. And they aren’t going to pressure you much on defense, so this is another team we’ll have to be patient offensively and look for opportunities to attack."
The Bears opened the season on the road at Stanford and Sacramento State, both losses, before returning home to face Philander Smith. UCA let a second-half lead slip away in that one, a 97-90 loss, but held off a late rally by Ecclesia in its last outing to win by 15.
"We have to learn how to finish games better," Williamson said. "We have to be able to hold leads when we get them. We haven’t figured out how to do that yet."
Miles, a redshirt sophomore transfer from Southeast Missouri (Jacksonville), leads the Bears with an 18-point scoring average. He is shooting 60.4 percent from the field and also averages 5.8 rebounds. Senior guard Mark Rutledge is next at 10.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
UCA will be playing its third consecutive home game before going on the road to Tennessee-Martin next Wednesday.