UALR gets to work early, puts away tough D2 foe UAFS

UALR did what it was supposed to do on Tuesday, beating Arkansas-Fort Smith 88-74 at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.

UALR improves to 3-4 on the season and has won 3 of its past 4 games. UAFS remains 6-0 on the season and No. 18 in NCAA Division II (the game counts as an exhibition for them). The game reunited UALR Coach Steve Shields and UAFS Coach Josh Newmann, who was once a Shields’ juco assistant.

Senior forward Will Neighbour led UALR with 20 points and 5 rebounds. Freshman Mareik Isom had 12 while sophomores Josh Hagins and James White each had 11 points. White turned his night into a double-double with 11 rebounds.

Junior point guard DeVonte Smith was nearly perfect. He finished with 5 points but had 9 assists with 0 turnovers in a team-high 30 minutes of action.

UALR was sharp from the start, taking a quick 11-1 lead on the strength of inside play from Neighbour and White. UAFS cut the lead to 2 midway through the first half before a UALR run put the Trojans up 45-29 at halftime.

UAFS hung around shooting the three-pointer in the second half. But the Lions never got closer than 12 points in the second half. The lead reached 25 points before UAFS made a garbage-time run.

UALR was over 50 percent shooting from the field most of the night. The Trojans ended up at 47.7 percent, including 42.9 percent from three-point range. UALR held a 45-29 rebounding advantage against a UAFS team that had been outrebounding its opponents by 12 per game.

UALR also had 19 assists, 6 steals and 3 blocked shots.

All 11 UALR players in uniform scored and played at least 10 minutes.