BURN THE HORSE
Ultimately, the game came down to a missed free throw and a missed buzzer beater. But the reality is that UALR let it slip away about two minutes earlier.
The result was a stinging 75-73 loss to Louisiana Tech on Monday night at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock. It was the first home defeat for the Trojans this season.
“I thought we saw some fight in our guys. We continued to play very hard and it’s still a learning experience,” said UALR Coach Steve Shields, whose team was down 9 points in the first half. “We’ve got to get better in those situations. But the difference in the game is that we give up 19 offensive rebounds and have 13 turnovers in the second half.”
The play-by-play shows UALR was down 2 points in the closing seconds when John Gillon slipped the ball to James White as he cut to the basket. White was fouled and his shot bounced in and out with 0.4 seconds left. Officials put White at the free throw line with 1.2 seconds left and UALR trailing 75-73.
“John made a great pass, the extra pass,” White said.
White missed the first free throw and UALR called a timeout in hopes of setting up a tip play. The problem was that UALR’s best “tipper” is White and he was the one shooting the free throw. Still when White intentionally missed the second, Will Neighbour tipped it out to the wing where it was retrieved by Josh Hagins. But his rushed final shot hit the front of the rim as the UALR rally fell short.
It should have never come to that.
UALR took a 69-65 lead after a jump shot by Hagins with 3:42 left.
UALR nearly got a defensive stop when Neighbour blocked Kenyon McNeaill’s shot with 3:27 left. But then the Trojans fell asleep as Brandon Gibson went right up the middle of the lane for a layup and a 69-67 score with 3:24 left.
“We talked in the huddle about getting three stops in a row. But we didn’t get any stops, they scored seven straight points,” UALR sophomore Taggart Lockhart said. “They got momentum right there.”
UALR handled the Louisiana Tech pressure but Hagins launched a three-pointer with 16 seconds remaining on the shot clock. It missed and McNeail grabbed the rebound as a foul was called on UALR’s Leroy Isler. McNeaill made both free throws to tie the game 69-69 with 3:03 left.
With a chance to re-take the lead, Isler missed on a three-point attempt and Louisiana Tech’s Michale Kyser grabed the rebound. Good ball movement by Louisiana Tech led to a three-pointer from McNeaill, who is from Conway, with 2:17 left. It gave Tech a 72-69 lead.
And UALR never really recovered. The Trojans got as close as one point a couple of times, the last at 74-73 with 1:07 left when Gillon made two free throws. UALR then had a chance for the lead when defensive pressure forced Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Smith to lose the ball out of bounds with 52 seconds left.
But Taggart Lockhart missed a jump shot at the other end with 22 seconds left. Tech grabbed the rebound and UALR let five seconds run off before fouling Raheem Appleby. He hit 1 of 2 free throws for a 75-73 score with 17 seconds left.
UALR again wasted way too much time with the ball. Instead of getting a couple of opportunities, they only really got one. Gillon finally got the ball to White who was fouled by Kyser as he cut to the basket. But White missed the first, setting of the final second scrum.