UALR gets the defensive stop it needs to hold off Middle Tennessee

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   This time UALR got the defensive stop it needed.
   UALR forced a backcourt violation by Middle Tennessee in the final seconds and the Trojans held on for a tough 62-58 victory over Middle Tennessee on Saturday afternoon at the Jack Stephens Center.
   Solomon Bozeman’s 17 points led UALR, but he missed about half of the minutes while in serious foul trouble.
   The game came down to a final possession, the same type of final possession UALR faltered in during close losses to Denver, Louisiana-Lafayette and Western Kentucky. UALR has also come up big in some of these possessions this season and did so again on Saturday.
   After a missed free throw on the front end of a one-and-one by Gus Leeper with 42 seconds left, Middle Tennessee had possession with the Trojans leading 60-58.
Montrell Thornton blocks
a shot in the first half.
   Middle Tennessee ran three different looks, but couldn’t get the shot they were looking for against the UALR defense. And when Middle Tennessee’s Trevor Ottley got trapped, he tried to flip the ball back to midcourt to James Washington. But the ball went out of bounds in the back court to give UALR possession with 17 seconds left. UALR inbounded the ball to Bozeman, who hit two free throws for a 62-58 lead and the Trojans held on for the victory.
   UALR is now 7-6 in the Sun Belt Conference, but didn’t get the help it was looking for around the league. Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State both won, keeping UALR in fourth place in the West Division standings.
UALR finished off a solid, but foul-ridden first half, with a dunk by Montrell Thornton for a 30-23 lead. But Middle Tennessee went on an 18-3 run to start the second half and led 41-33 on a three-pointer by Washington with 13:36 left.
UALR fought back with three consecutive three-pointers. Chuck Guy took an inside-out pass from Eric Kibi and hit the first. Then Kibi hit D’Andre Williams for the second. And then Williams hit Guy for the third as UALR trimmed the lead to 43-42.
It was a dogfight from there.
A three-pointer by Matt Mouzy gave UALR a 53-50 lead, but Middle Tennessee tied the game again at 57-57 with 1:47 left.
With Guy dribbling, Middle Tennessee lost track of Mouzy, who hit another three-pointer with 1:37 left for a 60-57 UALR lead.
Middle Tennessee’s James Gallman hit 1 of 2 free throws for a 60-58 lead and the Blue Raiders fouled Leeper on the rebound of the miss. But Leeper’s miss set up the final defensive stop for the Trojans.