LAS VEGAS -- It was about as ugly as it could be. But that's just the type of game that favored UALR.
UALR gutted out a 52-49 victory over Oral Roberts on Wednesday in the second game of the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic at South Point Arena.
UALR fell behind by nine points in the first half and trailed by seven at halftime. But stingy defense and just enough offense allowed the Trojans to pull ahead. The victory avenged a 26-point loss to Oral Roberts earlier this season in Tulsa.
"With three straight losses, this was very big for our team. There's a lot of excitement in that locker room," UALR Coach Steve Shields said. "This is a very good win for us, a much-needed win for us."
Solomon Bozeman could have put the game away late at the free throw line. But twice he made only 1 of 2 free throws as Oral Roberts had a couple of final chances. But the last was a three-pointer that was no good as UALR held on for the victory.
"We need a game that becomes a possession game and I thought our guys had good toughness on the defensive end," Shields said. "We feed off of our defense. I thought our guys had good energy, good pop and were solid on the defensive end tonight."
Bozeman, who was scoreless at halftime, led UALR with 17 points. Chuck Guy had his best game as a Trojan, finishing with 13 points. And UALR got just enough from its big men. Montrell Thornton had 8 points and 7 rebounds while staying out of foul trouble.
Oral Roberts couldn't do the same. Ken Holdman and Dominique Morrison each had three fouls by halftime and Holdman fouled out with more than six minutes remaining.
Bozeman made four consecutive free throws to give UALR the lead for good at 46-43. The lead was 48-44 after two more free throws by Bozeman and 50-47 after a jump shot by Guy with 2:35 left.
With the score 50-49, Morrison missed the front end of a one-and-one with 33 seconds left and they fouled Bozeman. He made 1 of 2 free throws for a 51-49 lead. UALR fouled Damen Bell-Holter, who missed both free throws. But UALR lost the ball out of bounds. Oral Roberts got a shot but Bozeman grabbed the rebound and was fouled. With five seconds remaining, he hit 1 of 2 free throws for a 52-49 lead. And the Trojans held on when a final Oral Roberts attempt missed.
"We weren't perfect by any stretch. We had too many turnovers and had a costly one down there. But they showed good resilience to beat a very good team," Shields said.
UALR was also a plus 10 in rebounding for the game.
"I thought we did a very good job of rebounding the ball today. They outrebounded us by nine at their place and we outrebounded them by 10 today," Shields said.
Shields shortened the bench dramatically from previous games. Gus Leeper and Marlon Louzeiro didn't play. Matt Mouzy played only three minutes, but that included a key three-pointer during a first-half scoring drought.
UALR will play Stetson at 6:30 p.m. Central on Thursday.