MONTICELLO — Arkansas-Monticello turned in a defensive gem Saturday at Steelman Field House as the Boll Weevils beat Ouachita Baptist 70-52.
Coming off back-to-back losses to Southern Arkansas and Harding, UAM head coach Allen Sharpe took some practice time to let the players watch their lackluster performances of the two setbacks. What he got in return was worth the TV timeout.
“We had a film session the other day that was very humbling for all the guys,” Sharpe said. “They got to really evaluate and see themselves. They saw that they weren’t putting forth the effort that we needed on the defensive end. And hopefully that’s what made the difference.”
It clearly made a difference in the second half. After leading 34-33 at the intermission, Ouachita went on a 10-3 run for a 45-37 advantage less than five minutes into the second half. UAM’s Kori Forge, who led all scorers with 18 points, put the Weevils back in contention with a pair of three-pointers and nailed his third trey in a row to give UAM the lead at 46-45.
“He made some big ones there,” Sharpe said of Forge’s scoring burst. “We had gotten down by eight of so and he made some big threes to get us back into the game. But that’s us. That’s how we score primarily is by perimeter play, kicking it out and taking shots.”
And while Forge was picking up the pace on offense, the Weevil defense stymied the Tigers on offense. Ouchita failed to score during an 8:05 stretch as UAM turned an eight-point deficit into a five-point lead. Ouachita’s Taylor Smith broke the Tigers’ scoring drought with a basket in the paint but Forge continued with the hot hand and nailed a three less than a minute later for a 53-47 Weevil advantage.
Forge was followed in scoring by Sergio Crowe with 16 points and L.A. Farmer with 15. Farmer said watching the game film was a shot in the arm for the Weevils.
“We learned a lot,” Farmer said. “We learned that we didn’t play any defense. It was the whole team that was down on defense. I thought (the losses) were because I wasn’t hitting any shots. But we lost those on defense. We got back out today and played the whole game. We held them under 60 points and that’s where our team defense neds to be.”
UAM improved to 15-5 overall and 5-3 in the Great American Conference while Ouachita dropped to 11-7 and 4-4 in the league.
The Weevils shot 47.4 percent from the floor for the game and 55.6 percent from three-point range. UAM forced a dozen turnovers and outrebounded the Tigers 33-23.
UAM returns to the floor Thursday at home against Harding University. Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m.