MONTICELLO — Allen Sharpe admitted he had regretted the decision.
The Arkansas-Monticello men’s basketball coach felt it was a mistake to host Springdale-based Ecclesia College — a nonconference opponent from the National Christian College Athletic Association — six games into Great American Conference play.
“All year long, I regretted having this game in this spot,” Sharpe said. “That is until we lost Thursday night.
“Then I was tickled to death we were playing this game. We got the sour taste out of our mouths.
“It ended up being a good thing.”
Coming off Thursday’s 71-66 loss to Southern Nazarene that snapped an eight-game winning streak, UAM rebounded with a 92-66 win over Ecclesia in its final nonconference game Saturday afternoon at Steelman Fieldhouse.
The Boll Weevils led the entire way as they dominated the Royals inside finishing with more points in the paint (68) than Ecclesia had total points.
Starting forwards D’Audrio Patton and Brandon Wilson both finished with double-doubles for UAM (11-3), which travels to Russellville to face Arkansas Tech on Thursday.
Patton, a junior, scored a career-high 26 points to go with 10 rebounds, seven of which were offensive. Wilson, a senior, added 22 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
“I thought our guards did a good job feeding the post,” Sharpe said. “But we missed some chances where I thought we could have fed it even more.
“It’s a point of emphasis for us … doesn’t matter who we play.”
UAM held a 47-30 lead at the break thanks to a 14-6 run to close the first half, but things got a little too close for comfort halfway through the second.
Ecclesia (3-12), which was led by Alex Pugh’s 18 points, cut the deficit to eight points twice, the second time at 60-52 with 10:47 left. UAM responded with a 22-5 run over the next 5:30 to open up a 25-point lead.
The Weevils’ main point of attack on Saturday was in the post, but some of their guards made solid contributions, as well.
Junior Kenric McCants only had two points but dished out 12 assists, including several alley-oops.
“He’s gotten better,” Sharpe said of McCants. “We’ve talked to him about trying to get more balance.
“He hadn’t scored much, then he had 14 against Southern Nazarene. … But he’s really good when the game is being played at 94 feet.”
Junior Sharif Hudson scored 14 points, while sophomore Ryan Lensing added 12 points as he connected on 4 of his first 5 three-point attempts.
Lensing is one of the Weevils who doesn’t see the floor very much, but saw extended playing time against Ecclesia.
“It was good for some guys who haven’t played a lot,” Sharpe said. “I always tell them, and of course they don’t believe me, that they’re just one turned ankle away from playing 15 to 20 minutes.”