The Arkansas State Red Wolves overcame seven-point deficit in the final 2:30 to take a hard-fought 73-72 victory over the University of Central Arkansas Bears before a crowd of 4,127 at the Farris Center, the third-largest crowd in school history.
ASU's Cameron Golden nailed a three-pointer from the right wing with 4.8 seconds remaining to give the Red Wolves (3-1) a 73-72 lead. UCA's All-Southland Conference guard LaQuentin Miles took the inbounds pass but slipped and fell, with a foot on the out of bounds line, turning the ball back over to ASU. Miles fouled Raeford Worsham with 1.5 seconds remaining but he missed twice at the line.
UCA senior Jarvis Garner got off one last heave from beyond half court that missed at the buzzer. Garner recorded his fifth career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Bears (1-2). UCA placed four players in double figures, with Miles and junior forward Jordan Harks scoring 14 each and senior guard Robert Crawford adding 10.
"We missed some shots, turned the ball over, got a little flustered there at the end,' said UCA head coach Corliss Williamson. "We just had some costly mistakes and you can't do that against a good team like Arkansas State. Coach (John) Brady does a great job of preparing his teams for these types of situations. It's evidenced when they won a triple overtime game against UT Martin (last week).
"We gave them opportunities. When we had them down, we just couldn't finish, we couldn't keep them down.'
The Bears were the aggressor in the first half, running out to as much as a nine-point advantage on Miles' jumper with 6:30 to play. But the Red Wolves outscored the Bears 15-4 in the final six minutes of the half to take a 31-29 lead at the break.
The second half was just as hotly contested, but the Bears managed to run out to another lead, 51-44, on Crawford's three-pointer with 11:43 left to play. But again, ASU came back with Ed Townsel's three-pointer making it a two-point game at 55-53 at the 8:40 mark. UCA pushed it out to seven points one more time, 72-65, on Miles' three-point basket with 3:36 remaining.
The Bears then turned the ball over three times over the next three minutes and failed to score again as ASU got a three from Trey Finn, a jumper from Worsham and Golden's game-winning three.
Worsham topped the Red Wolves with 18 points, hitting 9 of 10 from the field. Townsel added 15 points, including 3 three-pointers, while Brandon Peterson had 12 points and 9 rebounds. UCA made 8 of 15 from three-point range and outrebounded ASU 42-34.
"There were definitely some good things we saw,' said Williamson. "We feel pretty good as a staff as far as what we have as a team. But out guys are hurting right now, they really wanted this game. And I feel their pain. But it's a learning process for us. We go through these type of situations in practice, and I think now the guys will start paying a little more attention now. If you can handle situations like this on your home court, it gives you a chance to get a win.
"We're just very happy to see this crowd come out and support us like this. It was a great game, two in-state schools going against each other. And hopefully we did something positive where the fans will come back and see us play again.'
UCA returns to the Farris Center on Saturday night, hosting Sacramento State at 7 p.m.