The Trojans rallied in the second half to beat Arkansas State 78-71 on Saturday before a raucous crowd at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
The victory clinched a tie for fourth place overall in the Sun Belt Conference. UALR is tied with Florida International at 11-9. Florida International wins the tiebreaker with UALR on the basis of sweeping Arkansas State this season.
UALR will play Florida International in the first round next Saturday. As the visiting team, UALR will wear maroon uniforms. The Trojans have never lost a game in Hot Springs wearing maroon.
On Saturday against Arkansas State, the teams battled each other and the officials most of the night. There were 59 total fouls called, including seven technical fouls. Four players fouled out, including UALR’s Gus Leeper, James White and Ben Dillard.
Freshman John Gillon led UALR with 24 points, making a whopping 15 of 18 free throws. Leroy Isler played big as well, scoring 13 points.
Arkansas State led the entire first half before a UALR surge allowed the Trojans to seize control of the momentum. A 15-0 run completely flipped the game and put ASU on its heels.
Arkansas State stretched its lead to 50-40 before the Trojans got hot. Gillon hit a three-pointer up top and then Isler hit one from the corner. Gillon scored on a layup and Leeper hooked one in as UALR took a 51-50 lead with 10:46 left.
It continued with a Josh Hagins’ jumper and a putback layuup by Leeper for a 55-50 lead at the 9:15 mark.
UALR then answered ASU’s rallies, mostly by hitting free throws down the stretch. UALR also hit some tough shots, including a Neighbour jumper with 1:58 left to extend the lead to 70-65.