A unique achievement Wednesday night overshadowed the usual high-scoring effort by the University of Central Arkansas' Jordan Howard in the Bears' 100-80 victory over Houston Baptist at Houston.
Howard managed the 12th 30-point game of his career with 35 on 16 shots (12 of 16 from the field, five of seven 3-pointers).
But Hayden Koval , the Bears' 7-foot center, had the second triple double by a UCA freshman this season with 17 points, 10 rebounds and a school-record 11 blocked shots.
Koval and fellow freshman DeAndre Jones are the second and third UCA players in history with triple-doubles, along with NBA former NBA star Scottie Pippen.
Stat lines: On Jan. 6, 5-10 point guard DeAndre Jones had 13 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists at Lamar. Pippen's triple-double occurred in 1987 against Hendrix. Koval's triple-double was just the 20 of the season in NCAA Division I and fourth by a freshman. UCA is the only team to have two this season.
Long and short: UCA's triple-doubles are by the shortest and tallest players on our roster.
UCA coach Russ Pennell: "I just thought he (Koval) was dominant on the defensive end. And early on, just by him protecting the rim like he was, he just changed the complexion of the game for HBU. And then he kind of started getting it going on the offensive end in the second half. They started in a box-and-one on Jordan and we tried to get Hayden to push deep in the lane because there was a big hole there in the middle. And he finally did an made some easy buckets, then as the game wore on, he stepped out and made some jumpers.
“That’s a special moment for a kid, and to have just three triple-doubles in the history of the school, and two of those were this season, by true freshmen. That’s pretty remarkable.’
Numbers: The Bears (13-12, 7-5) agot 13 points each from junior Thatch Unruh and senior Mathieu Kamba and 10 from freshman Matthew Mondesir. UCA finished with 21 assists, five each from Kamba and Howard. The Bears also outrebounded the Huskies 44-32.
And Howard: “Jordan was Jordan,’ said Pennell. “He was so effiicient, he didn’t force it, he let the game come to him. Even when they box-and-oned him, he kind of waited and then got a couple of layups, and then all of a sudden the basket got really big. To only miss four shots all night, that’s pretty incredible."
At the Farris Center on Wednesday, Kierra Jordan had a season-high 27 points in leading the Sugar Bears (16-7, 9-3) to a 64-56 victory over Houston Baptist (6-15, 2-9).
Notable: The Huskies hung around and trailed by only three with two minutes left. Jordan then again took control, scoring the game’s next points to push the Sugar Bear lead back out to nine with under a minute to play. Four free throws from Taylor Baudoin and Maddie Goodner were enough to keep the Huskies at bay.
Numbers: After shooting just 39 percent in their previous five games, the Sugar Bears connected on 49.1 percent of their field goal attempts on Wednesday – their highest mark of the conference season. Antonija Bozic continued her hot streak from beyond the arc, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers in four attempts to improve to 12 of 26 (46.2 percent) over the last three games. The Southland leader in 3-point percentage, Bozic has made 51.4 percent over the last seven games. Baudoin finished with 15 points, her 20th time this season in double figures, and moved closer to the 1,000-point mark for her career – ending the night sitting at 992.
Standing: With the win and Abilene Christian’s 81-60 loss at Nicholls, the Sugar Bears move into sole possession of third place in the league standings behind Lamar (11-1) and SFA (10-1) entering the final third of the conference slate.
Next: The Bears and Sugar Bears are off until Wednesday when they play McNeese State teams. The UCA men play at home while the Sugar Bear are on the road.