The University of Central Arkansas Bears shook up their starting lineup Tuesday night against the Troy Trojans and it resulted in a hard-fought 60-53 victory at the Farris Center.
The win broke a three-game losing streak and sent the Bears into the Thanksgiving break with a 2-3 overall record and some much-needed confidence.
"I thought we played defense very hard," said UCA coach Clarence Finley. "I thought we played on both ends of the court. I really thought we shared the basketball. We shot the ball very quickly against Louisiana Tech, and tried to clean it up, then we shot the ball very quick against Arkansas State.
"But we definitely shared the ball tonight. Two of the players we took out of the starting lineup had been shooting quick and gambling on defense. And those guys came on and played really well down the stretch tonight."
UCA overcame 28.6-percent shooting in the first half by catching fire in the second half, hitting 53.8 percent from the field and making 6 of 9 from three-point range. The Bears, who trailed by as much as eight points early in the second half, began to find the range and force the Trojans (2-2) into turnovers.
Troy finished with 17 turnovers, with UCA cashing in 16 points off the miscues. UCA was coming off back-to-back games of 24 turnovers against Louisiana Tech and Arkansas State but had just 12 against the Trojans.
Ryan Williams, in his first start of the season, led the Bears with 13 points, while Jackson and senior DeShone McClure added 12 each. Sophomore Daouda Berete had a game-high nine rebounds and Jackson had a game-high five assists.
"Ryan is a very good point guard, but he's been sick for a couple of months,' said Finley. "We finally got a healthy Ryan, and you could see, he really ran the team well. The thing about Ryan, he's been through the tough games like this before. He played a lot for us as a freshman.
"I brought him in the office the other day and told him, this is going to have to be his team down the stretch. I told him he has to get healthy and he has to play. He's going to have to be our point guard."
UCA heads to Manhattan, Kan., on Sunday to take on the Kansas State Wildcats. Game time is 3 p.m. on Fox Sports Midwest.