Hagins wins it at buzzer as UALR starts Sun Belt play 2-0

Sophomore Josh Hagins’ 20 footer as time expired was the difference as UALR held off Texas-Arlington 72-70 on Saturday in Arlington, Texas, in Sun Belt Conference play.

UALR never trailed in the game but clung to a narrow lead late before Texas-Arlington’s Ryan Edwards hit two free throws with 31 seconds left to tie the game 70-70.

UALR played for the last shot with a couple of options. Ideally, they wanted Hagins to force the issue in the paint.

“We got the ball back in Josh’s hands, where we wanted it,” UALR Coach Steve Shields said. “We wanted Josh to drive it. But he showed a lot of confidence, jumping up and knocking down a long 2.”
Hagins looked like he was in trouble for a second. But he hopped left and got off a three over a near block attempt by UTA. The ball swished as time expired, giving UALR a 2-0 start to Sun Belt play. The victory also evened UALR’s season record up at 7-7 as the Trojans have won four of their past five games.

Hagins, who missed a three-pointer that would have put UALR up five on the previous possession, finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. It was his second final seconds clutch shot this season. He sent the Southern game to overtime with a three-pointer at the buzzer back in November.

Sophomore James White was the best player on the court for UALR, which wasn’t even sure he would play due to a rolled ankle suffered on Thursday against Texas State. But White finished with 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting.

“He showed some toughness playing tonight. It swelled up on him and he was with [athletic trainer Michael Switlik] most of yesterday and the entire morning today. It paid off for us,” Shields said.

Just as good was senior Will Neighbour, who finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and 2 steals. Junior Ben Dillard also had 10 points for the Trojans.

“It’s a great road win for our guys,” Shields said. “It’s tough to get a road win. I thought our guys showed great resiliency.”

UALR led by as many as 12 points in the first half before allowing Texas-Arlington to get back in late. The game was tied 33-33 at halftime.

UALR stormed out of the locker room after halftime, scoring 16 of the first 23 points to tke a 49-40 lead on a jumper by Ben Dillard with 14:23 left.

UALR led 68-58 with 3:09 left before a near collapse. It got serious with the Trojans leading 68-62 with 2:06 left. Neighbour slipped a pass to White who looked like he was going to dunk the ball. But he turned it over instead. Then with the lead just four points, Hagins turned it over and UALR’s DeVonte Smith committed an intentional foul with 1:30 left.

UTA made both free throws for a 70-68 score. And the Mavericks got the ball. Kyle McElvain missed and Neighbour was fouled as he grabbed his 10th rebound of the night. Neighbour made both free throws with 1:19 left for a 70-66 lead.

Lonnie McClanahan cut the lead to 70-68 but UALR couldn’t put the game away when Hagins missed from 3. Neighbour was called for a foul on the rebound and Edwards made both free throws to tie the game.
UALR then won it on Hagins’ jumper.