The biggest problem plaguing the Arkansas-Pine Bluff women’s basketball team — more than the losing streak hanging over its head — has been the inability to make the key play down the stretch.
“Having someone step up to the line at key times during the game and making free throws,” UAPB head coach Nate Kilbert said. “We are making them, we just aren’t making them at key times.
“We are making baskets, we just aren’t making them at key times. We’re not turning it over, but we are turning it over at key times.”
UAPB averages 11 free throws made per game with a .575 percentage and have a field goal average of .367. They turn it over about 18 times per game.
In its game against Texas Southern on Monday, UAPB turned it over just 16 times.
“We don’t have nearly as many turnovers as we did last year,” Kilbert said. “Normally we are in the 20s with turnovers, but we just turn it over at bad times.
“That’s the key to us losing.”
UAPB (1-16, 0-7 SWAC) will now turn its attention to a four-game homestand beginning with Grambling State on Saturday beginning at 5 p.m. at the H.O. Clemmons Arena. The Lady Lions will then host Jackson State on Monday beginning at 5:30 p.m.
“I think it is huge,” Kilbert said. “To have four games at home, especially after losing 16 in a row. It can’t do anything but help us.
“Just to be at home for those four games. We are going to play with a lot of energy here.
“You are just more comfortable at home.”
The last time UAPB won was the season opener against Philander Smith, and then came a six-game road trip that included games against Marquette, Iowa, Xavier and Nebraska. It must have taken its toll because when the Lady Lions returned home to host Talladega College on Dec. 17, they lost 77-75.
“Honestly, I think it takes a bigger toll on the coaches than the players,” Kilbert said. “I think they are handling it well because I think most of them are used to it.
“It is a lot easier to handle it when you are used to it.”
Most of the players with the exception of senior Christina Lasane and sophomore Cassidy Wright, did not play much last year in which the team made it to the semifinals of the SWAC tournament.
In the four-game homestand, UAPB will face Grambling State (7-11, 4-3), Jackson State (6-11, 4-3), Alabama State (9-9, 2-4) and Alabama A&M (3-14, 1-6). If the Lady Lions could win two of those games, it could be right back in the middle of the conference instead of in last place.
“We haven’t played real bad basketball,” Kilbert said. “We just haven’t played well enough to win.
“We are looking forward to these four home games.”
Kilbert said one of the things that has been helpful during this skid has been the team’s attitude.
“We are trying to get them uncomfortable with losing,” Kilbert said. “I think this homestand is going to help us with that.
“Their attitude has been great when it comes to working, though. If you watch our practices, they are working real hard in practice.”
Lasane leads the Lady Lions with 11.9 points per game and grabs about 3.9 rebounds a game. Wright is second on the team in scoring, averaging 9.9 points per game.
“We aren’t built the way we want to be built to do some of the things we want to do,” Kilbert said. “We just got to keep chipping away at it.
“We are going to get on a roll where we win a few. Hopefully it will start this weekend.”