The University of Central Arkansas men’s basketball upperclassmen made a stand in a come-from-behind 73-68 victory against the University of New Orleans on Wednesday night in the Farris Center in Conway.
Three upperclassmen finished in double figures for the Bears (9-16, 8-6 Southland Conference) that helped lead UCA to come back late in the second half to win against the Privateers (7-17, 3-11 SLC).
Junior Hayden Koval finished with a double-double recording 11 points and 10 rebounds.
“I was just spending those hours in the gym outside of practice,” Koval said. “When you get discouraged and shots aren’t falling, you just got to keep shooting.”
Neither team shot well from the field in the first half as the Privateers went 14-29 from the field in the first half while the Bears went 10-28 from the field.
New Orleans took an early 6-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game before UCA got on the board.
The Bears hung around the entire first half and refused to go away.
UCA turned the ball over 10 times in the first half which led to points for the Privateers.
With less than a second left in the first half, junior guard Rylan Bergerson made a 3-point basket to cut the New Orleans lead to 39-31 at the half.
“That gave the guys a boost of confidence,” interim head coach Anthony Boone said. “It gave them something positive going into the locker room.”
The Bears made a run in the second half, holding the Privateers to no field goals for a span of four minutes in the second half, while going on a 8-0 run themselves.
UCA took their first lead of the game at the 9:38 mark of the second half on a bucket from junior point guard Deandre Jones.
Jones finished the game with 20 points and six assists.
The Bears only shot 27.3 percent from the 3-point line but made the shots that needed to made when it counted most late in the game.
With the win, UCA has won two straight in Southland Conference play.
“Our guys have a lot of confidence,” Boone said. “They don’t quit. They just don’t quit.”
Bergersen led all scorers with 21 points, while Jones followed with 20 points.
The Privateers were led by Troy Green’s 19 points, while Bryson Robinson scored 16 points, Jahmel Myers scored 11 and Lamont Berzat finished with 10.
UCA now prepares for a tough road game when the play Sam Houston State on Saturday.
“We’ll have to have a better first half,” Boone said. “It’s going to be tough if we let them get up early like tonight.”
UCA defeated Sam Houston 89-82 on Jan. 11 in Conway.