MONTICELLO — For 40 minutes it looked as though Arkansas-Monticello would once again be done in by poor free-throw shooting.
Less than 48 hours after UAM shot 31 for 50 at the charity stripe in a road loss to Southern Arkansas, the Boll Weevils had made just 17 of 33 freebies by the end of regulation Saturday at Steelman Fieldhouse.
Overtime, though, was a different story.
UAM connected on 8 of 10 free throws in the extra 5 minutes and Henderson State’s Melvin Haynes missed a wide-open three-pointer at the buzzer as the Weevils earned a 75-72 win.
“I’m kind of a glass-half-empty guy,” UAM head coach Allen Sharpe said. “We shot 8 for 10 from the line in OT, but we shot 25 for 43 for the game.
“We shot 43 free throws. That shouldn’t even be a game.
“Some of it’s physical, but a lot of it’s mental.”
The free throws proved huge in overtime as the Weevils (13-6, 6-5 in Great American Conference) went just 1 for 4 from the floor in the extra session.
The Reddies (8-11, 4-7), meanwhile, connected on 3 of 7 shots but missed all four of their three-point attempts.
Haynes led Henderson State with 17 points, including all seven of the Reddies points in overtime. Taylor Smith (14), Reggie Murphy (12) and Ronald Lawson (10) also reached double-digits for Henderson State, despite the latter two fouling out in regulation.
Senior Brandon Wilson led UAM with 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Senior Dayton Mickens scored 14 and senior Jared Harrison added 10, but the biggest lift came from junior reserve player Tre Wells, who finished with 16 points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes.
“He stepped up and played really well for us,” Sharpe said. “Some guys think at this point in the season the coach is set on a lineup, but that’s not true at all.
“Tre earned some minutes tonight.
“When guys step up like that it’s good for role players, and it’s good for the starters because it puts pressure on them and lets us hold them accountable.”
The win kept the Weevils from falling below .500 in conference play for the first time since Nov. 21 when they lost their conference opener against Southwestern Oklahoma State.
UAM now faces its toughest portion of the schedule with four straight road games in the state of Oklahoma — Northwest Oklahoma State (Jan. 30), SWOSU (Feb. 1), Southeastern Oklahoma State (Feb. 6) and East Central (Feb. 8).
“Well, I’d like to win at least three out of four,” Sharpe said. “Obviously, we’d like to win all four, and we’ve got the talent and personnel to do it.
“Not sure I’d be happy with a split.”
Henderson State 74, UAM 66
MONTICELLO — A big game by Henderson State’s Dulincia Keener was too much for Arkansas-Monticello to overcome on Saturday afternoon.
Keener finished with a career-high 26 points (on 10-of-14 shooting) and 11 rebounds to lead the Lady Reddies to a 74-66 win over the Cotton Blossoms.
Aungelique Sledge and Krystal Beachum added 13 points apiece for Henderson State (12-5, 7-4 in Great American Conference).
UAM (5-12, 1-10) held a slim 33-32 lead at halftime, but was outscored 42-33 in the second half en route to its eighth-straight loss.
The sophomore trio of Tamia Grady, Jordan Goforth and Nikki Mullen led the Blossoms with 18, 15 and 13 points, respectively.