Marcel Mosley doesn’t always know whether he’ll start a game or give Arkansas-Pine Bluff a spark from the bench.
“It’s been really tough because I don’t really just know,” said the junior guard, who’s started nine games this season. “It’s hard to play on both teams. You’ve got starters and bench players who don’t contribute. So I look to score with the bench and play a good role with the starters.”
Being flexible in the lineup has not hindered Mosley’s play at all. He’s scored in double digits off the bench in five games and registered no fewer than eight points in his last seven games, all of them starts.
He followed up a season-high 19 points against Prairie View A&M last Saturday with 17 points at Texas Southern two nights later.
So, he wouldn’t be a bad sixth man for an otherwise struggling bench.
Golden Lions reserves have not combined for more than six points during the team’s five-game losing streak, which they’ll try to break tonight at home against Grambling State. In their previous outing, a 72-71 loss at Texas Southern, the reserves went scoreless.
“We need other people to contribute when we get tired,” Mosley said. “We can’t fall out. We just really told our bench to come out and be more aggressive so we can attack.”
Yet, the lack of bench production has not been a major concern for coach George Ivory. He cited Mosley’s move to the starting role and losing junior DeAndre McIntyre for the season to a confirmed ACL tear as factors.
He has to go deep into his roster, now with 13 remaining players, to find some scoring help.
“We’re hoping (Sean) Tingle, Jordan Brown and Trent Whiting and Trent Jeffries can come in and do a good job for us,” Ivory said.
Bench play will be key for a Lions team (4-15, 2-5 SWAC) that cannot lose another game in order to avoid a losing season. But Ivory said he hasn’t given much thought to the negative consequence.
“I never thought about that because the schedule we play preseason is tough,” he said. “We played one of top six toughest (nonconference) schedules in the country. I’m more concerned with what we do in the SWAC season because when we play nonconference, that’s another story.”
There’s also the question of who can step up if Davon Haynes cannot play enough minutes tonight. The starting senior forward, whose 14.5 points per game leads the Lions, has played the past two games with a fracture in his right shooting hand but sat out of Thursday’s practice to ice the pain.
The Lions have been focused on trying to finish games as well. They’ve been within a bucket of taking the lead in two of the past four games, but a turnover, three fouls and a blocked shot against UAPB in the final 1:44 helped Texas Southern come from a 69-66 deficit to win 72-71.
“We’ve been doing a lot of conditioning and then coming right back and going over 5-minute stretches where we’ll be able to close out games, because it seems like it’s little things that are hurting us down the stretch,” Ivory said. “A lot of times, when you get tired, you make little mistakes, and I think that happened. You’ve got to make shots as well.”
UAPB missed three shots in the final minute, one of which was blocked.
Tonight, the Lions’ fortunes may change with the start of a four-game homestand against a Tigers’ team (1-15, 0-7) that’s lost their last 11. But the Lions will have to contain Antwan Scott (14.5), who scored 25 and 27 against Texas Southern and Prairie View in one-possession losses, and junior A’Torri Shine (15.9). Both are junior guards.
Both teams in dire need of a win, UAPB isn’t shaken by its own skid.
“It motivates us because we know we’re going to be good at the end of the day when we get everything on the right page,” Mosley said.
Golden Lions statistical leaders
• Points: Davon Haynes 14.5 per game; Tevin Hammond 13.1; Marcel Mosley 11.2; Daniel Broughton 8.2; Ghiavonni Robinson 5.7
• Field-goal shooting: Jaylon Floyd .524 (11-21), Haynes .485 (99-204), Sean Tingle .476 (10-21), DeAndre McIntyre .457 (32-70), Trent Whiting .441 (15-34)
• Three-point shooting: Whiting .500 (4-8), Mosley .425 (34-80), Broughton .343 (12-35), Hammond .340 (36-106), Robinson .306 (22-72)
• Free-throw shooting: Robinson .882 (15-17), Mosley .809 (38-47), Chandler Savage .778 (7-9), Hammond .774 (72-93), Broughton .710 (22-31)
• Rebounds: Haynes 7.4 per game; Broughton 4.4; Mosley 2.4; McIntyre 2.4, Hammond 2.2
• Total assists: Hammond 89, Mosley 39, Haynes 25, Savage 17, Robinson 13
• Total steals: Hammond 51, Mosley 36, Haynes 21, Savage 15, McIntyre 12