MARTIN, Tenn. — Sophomore LaQuentin Miles topped the 20-point mark for the fourth consecutive game, leading the University of Central Arkansas Bears to a 75-68 victory over the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks on Wednesday at Skyhawk Arena.
Miles scored a game-high 23 points and sophomore Jordan Harks added 15 as the Bears won on the road to break a 16-game road losing streak dating back to the final game of the 2009-2010 season. UCA improved to 3-3 on the season with their third straight win, and are at the .500 mark for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
"It’s tough to win on the road," said UCA’s second-year head coach Corliss Williamson. "You have to have mental toughness and you have to stick together as a team because you don’t have your fans to pull you through when times are tough. You have to depend on the five guys on the court and the bench.
"We challenged our guys at the beginning of the game to make sure we stayed focused, and to keep that in mind when things got hard tonight. We did a good job of that, and I’m just proud of our guys’ effort."
UCA, down by 13 points midway through the first half, ran off 16 consecutive points, fueled by Miles and Harks, to take a 31-28 lead with 2:45 left in the half. The run eventually became a 21-3 streak for the Bears as they settled for a 36-31 halftime lead.
Miles, a sophomore from Jacksonville, scored eight points during that stretch, including a slam dunk with 26 seconds left to set the halftime margin. Harks had six points, Jarvis Garner had three, Lenell Brown scored two and Robert Crawford added another dunk to punctuate the run.
The Skyhawks (2-6) closed the gap several times in the second half but the Bears made enough free throws down the stretch to earn the victory.
"Our guys came out relaxed,’ said Williamson. "We didn’t have that fire, that energy that we had the other night against Eastern Illinois, and part of the game against Ecclesia. What was disappointing about that was, I told our guys before we left here, that we weren’t practicing to win a game. It seemed like we were complacent, satisfied to win two home games.
"I told them we hadn’t accomplished anything. I think that kid of bled over to the start of the game, but we were able to bring some guys off the bench and give us the energy we needed. You know what you’re going to get from Jordan Harks every night. He’s going to bring that energy and that effort. And Mark with his leadership, he knows this is his senior year and he’s going to do whatever it takes to help this team win.
"I was just proud of everyone that stepped into that game, whether they played three minutes or 35 minutes. They all came with something positive, and that’s what we’re going to have to have to win on the road."
Rutledge added 11 points for the Bears. Mike Liabo and Corderrio Maclin had 12 points each for the Skyhawks.
UCA returns home for two straight games, beginning Monday night against Southeast Missouri. Tip-off is 7:30 at the Farris Center.