UALR blown out in quarterfinals of Sun Belt Tournament

Saturday night at the Sun Belt Tournament was a microcosm of much of UALR’s season.

Slow start. Check.

Turnovers. Check.

Inability to get defensive stops. Check.

Rebounding issues: Check.

The result was a disappointing 69-54 loss to Florida International on Convention Center Court in Hot Springs. UALR’s season ends at 17-15.

It’s a difficult season to digest at this point. The youth was exciting at times but never matured to a consistent level of play. And the entire roster returns next season but it’s one with a still glaring hole at the shooting guard.

John Gillon had 16 points to lead UALR while Leroy Isler added 13. No other Trojan had more than 6.

FIU completely took UALR junior Will Neighbour, who was 2 of 10 from the field and finished with 6 pointsa nd 10 rebounds, out of the game. And like has happened so many times this season, no one on UALR was able to take advantage of the defense overplaying him.

The issues were plentiful on Saturday. UALR made just 15 of 49 field goals (31 percent), 3 of 18 three-pointers (17 percent) and had 21 turnovers. UALR also only held a 36-34 advantage in rebounds against the much smaller Golden Panthers, who advance to meet Middle Tennessee on Sunday.

UALR got outscored 22-14 in points in the paint and 29-17 on points off turnovers. Many of those points off turnovers came in the backcourt as UALR struggled to do anything when FIU turned up the defensive heat.

UALR fell behind 34-19 in the first half before rallying to cut the lead to 34-26 at halftime.

But each time UALR closed the gap, FIU answered. UALR cut it to 40-35 on a three-pointer by Neighbour but turned it over with a chance to get closer. But back to back layups by Tymell Murphy, the second coming off a backcourt turnover pushed the lead back to 44-35. And the lead ballooned to 20 points from there.