Boll Weevils answer Thursday’s loss with emotional win on Saturday

Last week’s trip to Oklahoma might have been just the thing to spark the University of Arkansas at Monticello. After dropping an 80-64 decision to Southern Nazarene last Thursday, the Boll Weevils rebounded with an 80-72 win in their first-ever meeting with Oklahoma Baptist University on Saturday.

The game in Shawnee, Okla. alsio marked the first time second-year UAM head coach Kyle Tolin had coached against his alma mater, for whom he scored more than 1,000 points as a player in the early 2000s, playing for his father and current UAM assistant coach Doug Tolin, the all-time winningest coach for the Bison. Kyle was his father’s assistant coach at Oklahoma Baptist for the 10 years prior to taking over the head job at UAM in 2014 (see top story).

Next up is a much shorter road trip to Harding University this Thursday to conclude a four-game swing away from Steelman Field House to begin the new year for the Weevils. The next UAM home game comes up Saturday, when Henderson State University comes calling for a 4 p.m. tipoff. Rival Southern Arkansas University then visits Steelman Field House for a rare Monday game and UAM concludes its three-game home stand with Ouachita Bsptist University on Thursday, Jan. 21. Both the SAU and Ouachita contests are scheduled for a 7:30 start.  

“I would of liked to won both games last weekend,” Kyle Tolin said. “We needed to get a road win so Saturday was really good from that standpoint. I didn’t think we guarded very well on Thursday in the second half. Thought we played okay in the first half and thought after halftime we were in a good spot and were ready to play better.

“On Saturday, we really guarded well down the stretch; we came up with big play after big play. Our bigs did a good job on the glass. I thought both Andre Brown and Vicktor Arnick played hard and were very active on both ends of the floor. Jerron Washington did a very good job guarding especially in the second half. Rich (Benedyth) and Jamal (Peterson) played well, too. We need them to play like seniors should play the rest of the season.”

In an emotional game, not only for the Tolins but for everyone involved, UAM captured its first road win of the 2015-16 season in Kyle Tolin’s first game against his alma mater. In the first half, the home-standing Bison got on top by as much as six points early on before back-to-back three-pointers from Peterson ended that rally.

UAM went behind the arc once again 10 minutes later to grab its largest lead of the half on a trey by junior Trent Jeffries to put the Weevils up 28-21 with 5:42 remaining before halftime. The Bison closed the final four minutes of the half on a 14-2 scoring run to hold a 38-32 lead at the break.

There was a stretch of four minutes midway through the second half that featured four tie scores, before UAM regained the lead for the final time with 7:24 remaining on a free throw from Benedyth to put the Weevils up 57-56. UAM led by as much as nine points on a three-pointer Peterson with five minutes left.

UAM ended the game shooting 43 percent overall (22-for-51), 44 percent on three-pointers (10-for-23) and 89 percent on foul shots (26-for-29). OBU finished at 52 percent overall (28-for-54), 32 percent on three-pointers (6-for-19) and 58 percent on foul shots (10-for-17).

The Weevils edged the Bison 34-14 in points in the paint and held a 34-27 advantage in rebounds.

Peterson finished the game one point shy of his career-high with 26 points, highlighted by five made three-pointers. Benedyth trailed closely with 24 points. Brown, another senior, paced the Weevils in rebounding with 11. Junior Arnick had nine boards.

Vladimir Nemcok and Steven Green led the Bison with 19 and 18 points, respectively.

Last Thursday at Southern Nazarene, both teams traded first-half blows with UAM’s biggest run being eight straight points, capped by three-pointers from Peterson on back-to-back possessions to give the Weevils a 17-9 lead at the 9:32 mark.

SNU later answered with an 8-0 run of its own and extended it to 12-3 to steal the lead back from the Weevils with 1:44 remaining before halftime. The Crimson Storm held a 33-30 lead at the break.

In the second half, SNU pulled away with two big runs. A 12-0 Crimson Storm streak early in the half put the Storm up by 10 points at the first media timeout. UAM responded with a 10-4 run to cut its deficit down to four points on a three-pointer from senior Tyler Davis with 10:43 remaining. The Storm later posted another 8-0 run. SNU maintained a double-digit lead for the final nine minutes despite an 8-2 scoring run for the Weevils that featured six straight points from Benedyth.

The Weevils finished the game shooting 41 percent from the field (25-for-61), 36 percent on three-pointers (8-for-22) and 60 percent on foul shots (6-for-10). Benedyth led UAM with 17 points, followed by Peterson with 14.

The Crimson Storm shot 53 percent on its home court, while taking advantage of 11 more free-throw attempts than UAM shot. SNU was 16-for-21 at the charity stripe. SNU’s C.J. Rodriguez led all scorers with 22 points.

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