With two non-conference games left, the University of Central Arkansas Bears are in good position to go into Southland Conference play with a winning record.
The Bears (6-5) picked up their first win over Little Rock (2-7) in 11 years, on the back of a strong defensive effort.
UCA held the Trojans to just 28.3 percent shooting on the night, but it was the way the Bears adjusted to what caused a loss to Little Rock 10 days prior.
"We knew what hurt us the first time we played Little Rock, and it was beating us on the dribble," UCA coach Russ Pennell said. "A lot of dribble penetration happens when the ball gets moved easily. We weren’t in the passing lane denying last time, but we made it a little more difficult for them because they have really good ball movement. We took them out of their rhythm a little bit, and that was a big key for us."
With eight days off for finals, the Bears will take a three-day break from basketball for players to rest and focus on schoolwork.
"We’ll give them Sunday, Monday and Tuesday," [Assistant coach] Matt Scherbenske and I are going to hit the road recruiting, and then we’ll reconvene on Wednesday. Hopefully those three days will give them a little rest. We’ve been burning the candle the last few weeks."
After finals, UCA will finish its home-and-home with Morehead State with a matchup Dec. 17 before finishing its trio of West Coast swings at Oregon
UCA has played well in their three West Coast games, thus far, losing to then No. 18 ranked University of California at Los Angeles by five in overtime Nov. 15; falling to the University of San Francisco by two in the final 15 seconds Dec. 4 and blowout 27-point win over the University of California on Dec. 6.
"It’s a challenge for our guys academically because we play so many road games to begin the year," Pennell said. "They miss a lot of school, but they’ve handled that beautifully. It’s just a way to get out of our routine. That’s the way of life at UCA and that’s what we have to do in the first part of the season."
The Bears will enter conference play Dec. 28 against Texas A&M — Corpus Christi at the Farris Center.