Two days after returning from a long trip to Hawaii, the University of Central Arkansas Bears needed a breather. They got it in the form of Champion Baptist on Tuesday.
The Bears rolled out to a 48-point halftime lead and cruised past the outmanned Tigers 100-29 at the Farris Center.
UCA (2-2) dominated the first 20 minutes, shooting 52.2 percent from the field and outrebounding the Tigers 37-10. All nine Bears that played scored by halftime, with junior forward Chris Henson leading the way with 12 points. Senior guard Imad Qahwash scored 11 and junior guard T.K. Smith had 10.
The Bears led 5-0 before Champion scored its first basket, then did not allow another point until the 10:33 mark when the Tigers scored to make it 25-4. The lead topped the 30-point mark when Henson put in a layup with 4:22 remaining. Smith’s three-pointer with four seconds left set the halftime margin at 58-10.
"Coming back from Hawaii, we knew we would be a little tired,’ said UCA head coach Corliss Williamson, "So this was the type of game we needed to make sure we got back in the flow of things. We even practiced them before the game to make sure we had their attention. We wanted to make sure they took this game seriously."
The Bears somehow improved their shooting in the second half, hitting 63 percent from the field (17 of 27) to finish at a season-high 56.2 percent. The 71-point margin of victory was the second-largest in the modern era, trailing only a 142-65 victory over Philander Smith in 1990.
It was the 60th time in school history the Bears hit the 100-point mark, and the crowd of 787 received free cheese dip from Stoby’s. Qahwash’s layup gave him a team-high 21 points for the game and gave the Bears their 100 points.
"Especially coming off a tough loss in Hawaii, and losing the last one at home to UMKC, it was good for the guys to have a game like this," said Williamson. "A lot of guys got a chance to play. And we had some guys who hadn’t shot the ball very well, and tonight some of them hit some big shots. Their confidence should be a little higher. Now we’ll get in here at practice tomorrow and try to clean some things up before Thanksgiving."
Smith and Henson both had 18 points, which were both career highs, with Henson adding 10 rebounds. Senior center Carlos Dos Santos added 10 points and 14 rebounds as UCA finished with a 58-17 advantage on the boards. UCA’s pressure defense recorded 19 steals, which ties for fourth best in school history, and forced 24 turnovers.
No Champion player was in double figures, but Wesley Bayer scored nine. The Tigers shot 22.6 percent for the game and made only 2 of 20 from three-point range.
The Bears head to Dallas to face Southern Methodist at 2 p.m. Sunday.