An improbable putback capped an even more improbable comeback for UALR on Thursday. Kemy Osse’s putback with 35 seconds left was the game winner as UALR rallied from a 22-point first-half deficit to beat Florida Atlantic 65-62 at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
UALR was lifeless in the first half before responding with a huge second half. Will Neighbour scored a career high 24 points to lead the Trojans (13-9, 7-4), who hold on to their narrow lead over Arkansas State in the Sun Belt’s West Division.
It didn’t look like it was going to happen in the first half. FAU used a 19-0 run to take a 33-11 lead late in the first half. It got so bad that UALR Coach Steve Shields brought in senior walk-on Ted Crass to try and spark some momentum. It worked.
UALR scored the final five points of the first half, cutting the lead to 35-19 on a three-pointer by Neighbour at the buzzer.
UALR was clearly different in the second half, but still wasn’t getting enough defensive stops early. But that changed throughout the half as the Trojans started cutting the lead minute by minute. UALR finally tied the game at 60-60 on a jump shot by Josh Hagins with 1:54 left.
After the teams traded points, UALR had the ball with the game tied 62-62. The Trojans didn’t get a good look with Isler throwing up a desperation shot late in the shot clock. It missed for an airball but Kemy Osse caught the ball under the basket and scored, barely beating the shot clock for a 64-62 lead with 35 seconds left.
It was a long way from over. UALR had to get stop after stop in the final seconds. First, UALR knocked a loose ball out of bounds. Then after a FAU miss, Osse was called for traveling with 11.1 seconds left. The ball was knocked out of bounds again with 9.7 left. From there, FAU threw the ball away.
UALR got the ball inbounds to John Gillon. He missed the first but made the second free throw for a 65-62 lead.
FAU had one final chance but Gantt stepped out of bounds with the ball and the Owls never got a final shot attempt.
UALR held the nation’s third leading scorer Gantt to 13 points (he averages 22.5). But Stefan Moody torched UALR’s point guards all night, scoring 24 points.