Going into Friday’s game, Arkansas-Pine Bluff head coach Nate Kilbert knew his team would have trouble finding its chemistry but he did not believe it would have taken an entire first half.
“I kind of expected to play the way we did, but not this bad,” Kilbert said. “We had so many people out, we are still trying to get our chemistry together.
“I expected our chemistry to be bad, but I still expected us to play better than what we did tonight.”
UAPB shot 44 percent in the second half and rallied from a two-point halftime deficit to defeat Philander Smith College 57-42 Friday night at H.O. Clemmons Arena.
“(Cassidy) Wright wasn’t comfortable doing anything; she was able to make a few jump shots late in the ball game,” Kilbert said. “Our ability to handle their man-to-man pressure was just awful.”
Philander Smith (3-1) averaged nearly 80 points a game coming into Friday but UAPB (1-0) was able to hold PSC to just 42 points on 14-of-71 shooting. Kilbert said if there was one bright spot, it was UAPB’s defense.
“I think if we had continued to play them man-to-man defense, they might have scored 80,” Kilbert said. “I thought they were doing a very good job of getting around us and getting to the basket.
“In the second half, we were able to make the adjustments and keep them in front of us.”
Early in the second half, Wright made two three-pointers to give the Lady Lions a 28-27 lead. A pair of buckets by Erin Campbell and a jumper by Wright gave UAPB a 34-28 lead with about 13:32 left in the second half.
“We got the same kind of shots in the first half, we just missed them,” Kilbert said. “(Christina) Lasane played nowhere near where she is capable of playing and (Carlisha) Walker didn’t play up to her potential because she’s been sick all week.”
Kilbert said Jazmyne Victorian will probably become a starter for UAPB later this season but this week she was suffering from what Kilbert called “female problems.”
“Hopefully we will get her back, and she will start to play up to her capabilities,” Kilbert said.
Victorian played about 10 minutes in Friday’s game and grabbed a pair of rebounds.
UAPB moved ahead to a 14-point lead following a pair of free throws and a three-pointer from Wright with 3:56 left in the game.
Wright led all scorers with 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting and four three-pointers. Walker had 10 points and nine rebounds and Campbell finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
UAPB shot a dismal 29 percent in the first half on 9-of-31 shooting.
“Understanding of where we are trying to get the ball and not finishing plays,” Kilbert said. “We got it there but we didn’t finish.
“We missed just too many layups.”
Philander Smith was led by Stuttgart native Kynsha Geans with 15 points on 5-of-17 shooting and seven rebounds. Brittany Leonard had 10 points with six rebounds.
Star City’s Caryan Jones chipped in with six points.
UAPB’s next six games will be on the road beginning with Monday’s game against Marquette. The Lady Lions will face Iowa, Xavier, Nebraska and Texas Tech in the month of November before returning home on Dec. 17.
“If we play (Marquette) the way we played against Philander, we are going to get embarrassed, simple as that,” Kilbert said. “…We got a tough road ahead and we got to improve and get better.
“It is going to be tough for us to win any of those games, but I have to see us improve.”