The University of Central Bears had five players in double figures Thursday night, including 21 points from freshman Khaleem Bennett, and downed old rival Hendrix College 99-73 at the Farris Center.
The Bears pulled away from a 46-34 halftime lead with a 53-point second half to even their record at 1-1 on the season.
The game counts as an exhibition for the NCAA Division III Warriors.
"I think that this is going to be a fun team,” UCA coach Russ Pennell said. "As I told them in the locker room, I think it's going to be a different guy every night. And I believe if our defense is consistent — I thought it was good tonight and it was good at Missouri — if we keep improving that, I think we won't have to worry about our offense quite as much.”
UCA senior guard Thatch Unruh scored 13 points and tied his career high with 11 rebounds as the Bears dominated the boards 51-28 over the smaller Warriors.
Seven players had at least four rebounds for the Bears, who also made 31 of 40 (77.5 percent) at the free-throw line.
"I think what the Missouri game and this game showed me is how good of rebounders our guards are,” Pennell said. "I liked our approach and how we assaulted the glass, and I thought that was a big factor.”
Bennett scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half, going 6 of 9 from the field, as UCA outscored Hendrix 53-39.
He finished the game with six rebounds and two steals.
"He's a great finisher. That’s one of the things we loved about him when we were recruiting him,” Pennell said of the 6-foot-4, 200-pound guard from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. "I think the big thing for him is understanding that right now, that's kind of his game. He's going to progress in the other areas. One of the things he's finding out, in the half court, everyone is playing him for the drive, and he's picked up a couple of charge fouls in both games. This is part of his progression.”
UCA's leading rebounder was Unruh, a 6-5 guard, and the assist leader with four was 7-0 sophomore center Hayden Koval, who also had 12 points and four rebounds.
"The thing that's nice is (freshman) Eddy (Kayouloud) had this monster game at Missouri, and then he was just OK tonight,” Pennell said. “But when you have another freshman in Khaleem, and he can do what he did tonight, that's pretty impressive.”
Sophomore point guard DeAndre Jones was just behind Bennett with 17 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while senior forward Tanner Schmit had 11 points, all in the first half.
UCA finished with 52 points scored in the paint and had 25 second-chance points from their 20 offensive rebounds.
"I didn't think the first half, we played a very clean half. I thought we were a little bit sped up, and I think that happens with young guys sometimes,” Pennell said. "We talked about that at halftime, and I was very happy we only had five turnovers in the second half. Something we talk about, if you can keep your turnovers under 15, seven or eight a half, you're going to win a lot of basketball games.'
Freshman forward Seth Stanley made three 3-pointers and led the Warriors with 16 points, although UCA held him scoreless in the second half.
Hendrix shot 38.2 percent overall and 63.9 percent (23 of 36) from the free-throw line. The teams combined for 56 fouls and 76 free throws.
UCA hosts University of the Ozarks at 7 p.m. Monday night before going on the road for three consecutive games at Pittsburgh, Troy and Saint Louis.