UAM’s Josh Gibson gets through tough defense to attempt a two-point shot Southwestern Oklahoma State on Saturday. (Special to the Commercial/William Harvey)
MONTICELLO – The Arkansas-Monticello men’s basketball team rallied from a 16-point deficit in the first half, but still came up a bit short as they fell to Southwestern Oklahoma State 71-70 inside Steelman Field House Saturday night.
Trailing 71-68 with 11.7 seconds left in the game, UAM head coach Allen Sharpe chose to go with the quick two instead of trying to tie the game. So following a timeout, Brandon Sims took the inbounds pass and ran down court for a quick lay-up.
After Southwestern Oklahoma missed two free throws, Kori Forge tried a three-pointer from almost NBA range to win the game, but it rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.
“We drew up something so Brandon could drive it with his strong hand and he got all the way to the basket,” Sharpe said. “We felt like that would be a good high percentage play.”
The loss drops the Boll Weevils to 11-8 and 6-7 in the Great American Conference. Southwestern Oklahoma State improves to 8-11 overall and 7-6 in the conference.
“It all kind of worked there,” Sharpe said. “It was probably cutting it a little close as Kori didn’t quite get to the arch on that last shot.
“But it worked out about as well as we could have asked it to work out. Other than Kori making that last shot.”
The Bulldogs led by as much as 16 points in the first half.
“Maybe being dead or having a little lull from the Thursday night game,” Sharpe said. “It was a tough, hard fought loss and we were worried about being a little dead there.
“And we were to start the game. We just didn’t guard at all.”
UAM got the board first but with 11:18 left in the first half, the Boll Weevils trailed 23-8 after Southwestern Oklahoma State’s Marin Zelalija hit a three-pointer.
“It goes hand in hand,” Sharpe said. “When you aren’t guarding, then the basket gets smaller and tighter.
“We lost that game in the first five or 10 minutes by not guarding. Giving up 39 points in the first half cost us.”
UAM cut the deficit to 39-34 right before halftime when Forge scored an easy bucket off a turnover and Sims quickly followed with a bucket of his own.
“We feel like if we can get 70, then we ought to win that game,” Sharpe said. “We aren’t going to get more than 70 points, that’s when our defense has got to come in and be good for us.”
Sims led the Boll Weeviles with 23 points and five rebounds. Forge scored 20 points, including 10 for 10 from the free throw line.
“Brandon is really coming on as of late,” Sharpe said. “He has been a real go-to-guy for us.”
Sharpe said he has been a testament for ‘sticking with it.’
“Early in the year, Sims hardly got off the bench for us,” Sharpe said. “He’s turned into a good player for us and we need that.
“It gives us another guy on the perimeter that can score.”
Dayton Mickens scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds for UAM.
UAM finished the game 23 of 45 from the field and 4 of 15 from the three-point line. The Boll Weevils were 20 of 22 from the free throw line.
For Southwestern Oklahoma State, Michael Bradley led with 18 points and seven rebounds. Zelalija and Thomas Davis finished with 13 points. Dominick Cornelius fouled out with 10 points.
UAM will host Southeastern Oklahoma State next Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m.
SW Oklahoma State 81, UAM 67
MONTICELLO – The Arkansas-Monticello Cotton Blossoms shot 40 percent from the floor as they lost to Southwestern Oklahoma State (15-4, 10-3 GAC) Saturday inside the Steelman Field House.
Jordan Goforth led UAM (4-14, 2-11 GAC) with 24 points as she shot 8 of 17 from the field and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. Ashley Qualls contributed with 12 points.
Raija McWright and Donlicia James each scored 11 points. James grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double.
With 13:08 left in the second half, UAM was tied with SWOSU at 48. But with 7:35 left in the game, the Lady Bulldogs had built a 10-point cushion.
Michelle Fisher led the Lady Bulldogs with 19 points.