UALR (8-8, 3-1) had an opportunity to be the first team to four Sun Belt Conference victories. Instead, UALR gave back any momentum it gained in sweeping the Texas road trip last week.
UALR trailed almost the entire game to Troy, which swept its Arkansas road trip. And UALR went from a prime position in the Sun Belt standings to now facing their toughest conference road trip of the season – at Western Kentucky and Georgia State – next week.
Nowhere was UALR’s uninspired play more apparent than rebounding. Troy held a 46-33 rebounding advantage, dominating UALR in an area UALR would have been expected to win.
The game’s momentum swung early when UALR senior Will Neighbour picked up two quick fouls. His replacement was senior Gus Leeper. And two minutes later Leeper picked up two fouls. That left UALR to play without either of its post players for the remainder of the first half.
UALR couldn’t get to the free throw line (they didn’t get a single attempt) and wasn’t making enough shots to keep pace as Troy grabbed a 35-28 halftime lead.
But UALR survived that foul trouble and started the second half with no players having more than two fouls. UALR was able to get to the free throw line more often, but the offense still lacked much sync. And every time UALR crawled within 5-8 points, Troy seemed to hit a big three-pointer at the other end to extend its lead.
Ultimately, UALR’s best second-half run got them to within five points at 58-53 with 8:21 left on free throws by Josh Hagins. UALR got a defensive stop but couldn’t convert when Neighbour missed. And Troy then started making free throws to extend the lead.
Neighbour played just four minutes in the first half but still finished with 13 to lead UALR. James White, on 6 of 8 field-goal shooting, added 12 and Kemy Osse 10.
Hagins returned to the lineup after being suspended by the Sun Belt Conference/UALR on Thursday. But he never got going offensively. He made 2 of 7 shots and finished with 7 points.