BURN THE HORSEFrom teardrops to tears of joy. Tuesday night was a long time coming for UALR.
Solomon Bozeman’s step back three-pointer with 1.6 seconds left gave UALR an improbable 64-63 victory in the championship of the Sun Belt Tournament in Hot Springs.
Sun Belt Conference
Along the way, there have been plenty of heartbreaks for Trojans fans. Two last-second shots at Barton Coliseum previously denied UALR an NCAA berth. The last came in Derek Fisher’s senior year of 1996 when the “teardrop” shot by New Orleans shocked the Trojans in their last appearance in the Sun Belt final.
Bozeman’s shot will go down in UALR history as the biggest shot on the biggest stage as UALR, which was sub .500 in the regular season, won four-straight games.
North Texas’ Tristan Thompson made 1 of 2 free throws with 7 seconds left to give the Mean Green, the defending champion, a 63-61 lead. UALR was out of timeouts, but North Texas called one to set up their defense.
Bozeman took the inbounds pass and calmly dribbled up the court as he was met by North Texas’ Shannon Shorter. At the three-point line, Bozeman gave Shorter a slight push off, stepped back, and buried a clutch three-pointer for a 64-63 lead with 1.6 seconds left.
North Texas’ final opportunity never happened when Alex Garcia-Mendoza stole the inbounds pass and the celebration at Summit Arena got into full swing.
Sun Belt Conference
Solomon Bozeman lets go the
The furious final-minute comeback was about as solid a team effort as was possible.
North Texas led 59-52 with 1:42 left before the comeback began.
Bozeman hit two free throws for a 59-54 score. Then D’Andre Williams stripped the ball away from North Texas’ Josh White and was fouled. He made both free throws for a 59-56 score with 1:22 left.
After a miss by North Texas, Williams grabbed the rebound and was fouled again. He hit two more free throws for a 59-58 score with 49 seconds left.
With Summit Arena erupting, White hit a long three-pointer over Williams with 30 seconds left for a 62-58 North Texas lead with 30 seconds left.
But the Trojans just wouldn’t quit. Bozeman handed off to Mouzy and set a killer screen. Mouzy hit a three-pointer with 18 seconds left to cut the lead to 62-61 and UALR called timeout.
North Texas turned it over again and Mouzy got a good look at another three-pointer from the top of the key that missed and North Texas’ Tristan Thompson grabbed the rebound with 7 seconds left.
Thompson missed the first free throw and made the second to set up the finish.
“These guys have handled adversity in a very positive way. We have lost some close games and bounced backing practice with good energy and that is, I think, what I am the most proud of with this team,” UALR Coach Steve Shields said.