MONTICELLO — Allen Sharpe feared the day was coming, but the foresight didn’t make it any easier to handle.
Throughout this season, the Arkansas-Monticello men’s coach repeatedly mentioned his nagging suspicion that eventually poor free-throw shooting would cost his team a win.
UAM finished a putrid 14 for 23 (60.9 percent) from the foul stripe in an 89-87 double-overtime loss to Harding on Saturday at Steelman Fieldhouse.
“Everything else aside, just make a free throw and you win the game,” Sharpe said.
The Boll Weevils (11-5, 4-4 in Great American Conference) made their only free throw attempt in the second overtime period, but went a combined 8 for 15 (53.3 percent) in the second half of regulation and the first overtime.
Even with the troubles at the line, UAM had a chance to win the game but a three-pointer by Jared Harrison rattled out at the buzzer.
Early on, the Bison (9-6, 6-3) looked as though they would stampede through the game.
Harding knocked down six of its first 10 three-point shots to grab a 29-16 lead with 7:44 left in the first half. UAM began to chip away and had a chance to go into the break tied at 38-all, but Brandon Sims missed a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
UAM’s Ryan Lensing drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game, 68-68, with 7.9 seconds remaining in regulation.
On the other end, Harding’s Weston Jameson missed a jumper as time expired.
The struggles carried over into the first overtime period as UAM made just 2 of 6 free throws, including missing the front-end of a one-and-one. Clinging to a one-point lead, Sims missed a pair of foul shots with 24 seconds remaining.
“I talked to them about making big shots,” Sharpe said. “Now, Ryan made a big shot, but we make a free throw and we win it.”
Hayden Johnson, who led Harding with 22 points, was fouled 17 seconds later, but only connected on one free throw and UAM’s Sharif Hudson missed a three-pointer to send the teams to a second overtime.
In the second overtime, a layup by Brandon Wilson, who scored a game-high 25 points, gave UAM an 87-86 lead with 1:07 left, but a three-pointer by Harding’s Jacob Gibson with 47 seconds remaining proved to be the game-winner.
The loss is UAM’s third-straight conference defeat after starting GAC play at 4-1.
“You know, winning and losing can be contagious,” Sharpe said. “I don’t want us to be in there thinking, how are we going to lose this game.”
Harding 73, UAM 64
MONTICELLO — The Arkansas-Monticello women nearly handed No. 6 Harding its first loss of the season on Saturday.
UAM held a 54-53 lead with 9:50 left in the second half, but a 12-1 run by Harding over the next eight minutes helped the Lady Bison earn a 73-64 win.
Shana Holmes led the way with 17 points for Harding (9-0 in Great American Conference). Kristen Celsor added 16, while Deshelle Isaac-Boyce (12), A’ndrea Haney (11) and Arielle Saunders (10) also reached double-digits.
Jordan Goforth’s 24 points led the Cotton Blossoms (5-9, 1-7). Tamia Grady and Poohnu Perry added 11 and 10 points, respectively.