UALR won its fourth road game in Sun Belt Conference play this season with a 62-58 victory over South Alabama at the Mitchell Center in Mobile, Ala. But the potential loss comes in the form of senior Will Neighbour, who appeared to badly injure his ankle during the second half. Neighbour returned and played down the stretch but didn’t look the same.
Before the injury, he was awesome. Neighbour had 23 points and 9 rebounds, making 6 of 8 field goals and 9 of 10 free throws.
Josh Hagins added 18 points and 6 rebounds, along with clutch free throw shooting, for the Trojans.
UALR held a 37-32 rebound advantage but really won the game at the free throw line. UALR made 19 of 26 to South Alabama’s 9 of 17.
UALR led by eight points at halftime but saw that lead melt away when South Alabama got hot from three-point range. But the Trojans hung in down the stretch and did enough to steal the victory.
“Anytime you can get road wins it’s big,” said UALR Coach Steve Shields. “I thought our guys showed some real resiliency. They don’t put asterisks on these games at the end of the year.”
Shields was referring not only to Neighbour’s injury but the fact that UALR played without sophomore James White for the fourth consecutive game. White hopes to return next week. We don’t know Neighbour’s status and Shields was not asked about it on the postgame radio show.
UALR trailed 54-51 inside of three minutes left. After a Hagins miss, Mareik Isom tipped in the rebound with 2:54 left to cut the lead to 54-53. On the next possession, UALR’s Leroy Isler tipped a pass off a South Alabama player out of bounds to give the Trojans the ball.
Isom had his shot blocked and Isler got the offensive rebound. Hagins missed a three-pointer and Isler got the offensive rebound. Then Isler missed the putback with 2:05 left and South Alabama got the rebound. That possession looked like it might have doomed the Trojans. But South Alabama was equally inept on its possession. Augustine Rubit missed a free throw and USA got the rebound. But Mychal Ammons missed both free throws to keep the score 54-53.
Hagins had his shot blocked by Rubit but he got the ball back. This time Hagins drilled a three-pointer with 1:25 left to give UALR a 56-54 lead.
Gus Leeper stole the ball from Ammons and USA fouled Hagins. This started a back and forth between the teams. UALR made free throws. South Alabama made easy baskets at the other end.
Finally, UALR’s DeVonte Smith missed the second of two free throws with 15 seconds left. UALR led only 60-58. But Antoine Allen missed on a shot in the paint and Hagins grabbed the rebound. He made both free throws with less than a second left for the victory.