Bad second halves doom UAM

Before taking his team on a 1,700-mile, two-weekend road trip to Oklahoma, University of Arkansas at Monticello coach Allen Sharpe said he would be unhappy with a split of the four games. That is exactly how the Boll Weevils’ coach said he felt Monday after UAM suffered two double-digit losses.

Following first-weekend victories over Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University, UAM was poised to make some noise in the Great American Conference regular season. After a 78-60 loss to East Central University on Saturday afternoon and an equally rough 74-62 defeat at the hands of Southeastern Oklahoma State University last Thursday night, the Weevils are right back where they started—one game above .500 in league play. 

“It was very discouraging to lose both games,” Sharpe said, “especially because we had already beaten both teams. At the half, we were up one (point) and Southeastern and down three at ECU but we had two really bad second halves—especially on the defensive end of the floor.

“Our opponents’ field-goal percentage is entirely too high. ECU made 16-20 shots in the second half. And it has a lot to do with our ability to defend. It will be good to play at home again. We have four of our last five in Monticello.”

Southern Nazarene University visits Steelman Field House on Saturday as UAM looks to right the ship. With the two losses in Oklahoma, the Weevils fell to 8-7 in the GAC and 15-8 for the season. Tipoff Saturday afternoon is 4 p.m.

Against East Central, UAM saw the Tigers shoot 80 percent from the field in the second half and 67 percent overall in the game to hand the Weevils their worst loss of the season. On the other side, UAM shot 35 percent from the field overall to tie its season low.

The Weevils started the second half much like it did the first, being held without a made field goal in the first seven minutes. That slump allowed the Tigers to turn a three-point lead at halftime into a 16-point lead at the 13:40 mark. UAM clawed back to a single-digit deficit once at the 12:18 mark and then again with just over six minutes remaining in regulation, but ECU’s high field goal percentage played a factor in killing each of those runs with made baskets on the other end.

UAM struggled in the first nine minutes of the game, only having two made field goals at the 10:57 mark and a deficit of 20-10. However, the Weevils switched the tempo and used a 14-2 run to gain its first and only lead of the game on a made basket by junior Kenric McCants at the 5:20 mark to give his team a 24-22 lead.

That basket by McCants preceded a game tying three-pointer from senior Dayton Mickens on UAM’s previous possession. Senior Brandon Wilson led UAM with 16 points, followed by McCants and junior Sharif Hudson with 10 points each.

Thursday night, Southeastern Oklahoma State took advantage of its home court by shooting nearly 60 percent from the field. The Savage Storm led by as many as 12 points in the first half at the 12:44 mark before UAM used an 8-0 run to climb back to within four points with just over 10 minutes remaining in the opening half. Southeastern jumped back on top by double digits with a pair of three pointers from Taylor Smaller in the next two possessions.

UAM closed out the final 4:23 of the first half outscoring Southeastern 9-1 to regain the lead at the break with a made jumper off the backboard by Hudson as time expired. UAM led by just one point, 30-29, at halftime due in part to only making 5-of-13 foul shots in the first 20 minutes.

Southeastern regained the lead in its first possession of the second half and maintained that lead throughout the remainder of the contest. The Storm reached a seven-point lead at the 12:45 mark, a 10-point lead at the 7:15 mark and its largest lead of 13 points with 3:52 remaining.

The Weevils were outscored 45-32 in the second half. UAM’s free-throw woes carried over into the final 20 minutes, ending the game shooting just 43 percent at the line (9-for-21).

Wilson led UAM with 16 points and six rebounds. Senior Jared Harrison added 12 points, Mickens had 11 and Hudson finished with 10 points.

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