Blossoms stop slide, win on road over SAU

No coach or player likes to lose. When a team loses six games in a row, a victory is desperately needed. In the midst of playing five of six games at home, it was on the road that the University of Arkansas at Monticello got that much-needed “W.”
In a game postoned by last week’s snowstorm, UAM downed rival Southern Arkansas University 66-56 in Magnolia Tuesday night. That somewhat soothed the otton Blossoms’ collective feelings after losing three state at home.
Lasy Thursday, Arkansas Tech University got the better of the Blossoms 84-66. Two days later, Harding University thumped UAM 70-53. Both games were played at Steelman Field House.
“Our problem on Thursday and Saturday,” a relieved UAM head women’s basketball coach Tanya Ray said, “was as it’s been throughout this stretch—our inability to score the ball. We had a couple of players who have been in a slump shooting-wise and it’s really hurt us. We can score in the mid-60s with this group most nights because our defense has been pretty good most of the year.
“Against SAU, we had a poor shooting first half but held them to 28. We shot the ball much better in the second half, particularly the third quarter and was able to get the lead back.  We gave ourselves extra opportunities to score with offensive rebounds and was able to score some easy buckets in transition. Those are things we must continue to do when our shots aren’t falling.”
The 1-2 stretch improved the Blossoms to 6-10 for the season. The win over SAU gave them only their second Great American Conference victory. UAM is at the bottom of the standings in the 12-team GAC, but only three wins out of eight place—which would send the Blossoms to the GAC Championship Tournament in Bartlesville, Okla. March 1-4.  
Against the Muleriders on Tuesday, UAM had to come from behind after a lackluster first half. SAU took a 28-21 lead into the halftime locker rooms but UAM exploded in the second half to claim the win.
A 23-15 third-period advantage turned the momentum in th Blossoms’ favor and UAM kept its mojo going in the final period, outscoring SAU 22-13. Sophomore Mackenzie Johnson led the way for the Blossoms with 17 points. Seniors Taylor Collins and Brittnee Broadway also reached the double-figures plateau, netting 12 and 11 points, respectively.
UAM went on a 13-2 run in the final stanza to take the wind out of SAU’s sails and seal the win. The Blossoms took control of the second half with hot shooting (21-for-25) from the free-throw line to help take down the Muleriders.
Junior Idalis Rubalcava scored 16 points, Broadway 15 and Johnson 11 against Tech but it was not enough to overcome the Golden Suns. UAM trailed only 24-19 after 10 minutes, but Tech quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead in the second period, sealing the win.
Against Harding, Johnson paced the Blossoms with 12 points. Broadway added 11 and was just two rebounds and four assists away from a triple-double. Harding shot 63 percent  from the field in the second half, compared to UAM’s 32 percent.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Lady Bisons began the second half with a 13-1 run—and were never headed after that.
Next up for the Blosoms is Southern Nazarene Universiy on Thursday and Oklahoma Baptist University on Saturday as UM concludes its stretch of five of six home games. Thursdy’s gme tips off at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday’s starting time is 1 p.m. Both games will be played at Steelman Field House.

The Advance-Monticellonian

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