Bears Withstand Bengals for 81-77 Win for Fourth Victory of Season

Bears Withstand Bengals for 81-77 Win for Fourth Victory of Season

Standings | Player Stats | Team Stats

CONWAY, Ark. ( - University of Central Arkansas guard Collin Cooper nailed a pair of free throws with 1.7 seconds remaining Sunday afternoon that allowed the Bears to finish off an 81-77 victory over the Idaho State Bengals in the final game of the Central Arkansas Classic at the Farris Center.

UCA (4-2) overcame a 20-2 second-half scoring run by the Bengals with a 9-0 run of its own and found the range from beyond the three-point arc late in the game to earn the tough victory. The Bears, who lost to Northwestern State in overtime less than 24 hours before, strung together three threes over a three-minute span to re-take the lead after falling behind 53-50 with 11:00 to play.

The Bears, who had five players in double figures, pushed their lead back out to as much as nine points before the Bengals came back again with another scoring spurt. ISU's Miguel Thomley made it a two-point game with his fifth three-pointer of the day with just 14 seconds remaining. Cooper was fouled but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 9.8 seconds on the clock.

But ISU turned it over when Thomley was called for traveling with 3.2 seconds left. UCA inbounded and Cooper was fouled again and made both free throws to end it. Sophomore guard Camren Hunter took over for the Bears down the stretch, converting UCA's final four field goals on drives to the basket.

"This one was definitely more fun," said UCA head coach Anthony Boone, "but just as stressful. We started off a little slow but then we found our bearings and got off to a nice little run. Then they went on a run going into half to close the gap a little bit.

"Then we came out in the second half and pushed it out pretty good but then they got hot, and for a while we had no answer. They came down and found some open shots and they got confidence and started making contested shots that we couldn't do anything about. But our guys weathered it, we kept at it, we kept our pace up. 

"Cam found his rhythm there, especially late in the second half when we needed some big baskets. They couldn't do anything with him. It didn't matter what they did. A couple of times they tried to trap him and they couldn't do that. They switched off bigger guys on him and he still took them to the basket and finished around them or finished over them. He's a tough guy and they were trying play physical with him but he's just too strong for that."

The Bears had five players in double figures, with senior Eddy Kayouloud, sophomore Camren Hunter and Cooper all scoring 16 points. Junior Masai Olowokere added his second consecutive double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while freshman Johannes Kirsipuu had 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in his first career start. Cooper went 4 of 6 from beyond the arc as UCA finished 10 of 27 from deep. 

"Masai is playing with a lot of confidence," said Boone. "And he's earned that because he's worked extremely hard. I've told our staff, and I've told him also, he doesn't realize how athletic he is. And he's starting come into that now. To have two straight games with double-doubles, that's pretty big for a 6-4, 6-5 shooting guard."

The Bears were just 3 of 5 at the free-throw line while the Bengals made 9 of 14. UCA had 13 offensive rebounds among its 39 total boards, with Kayouloud adding eight. The Bears scored 38 of their points in the paint and 20 points off ISU turnovers. 

Thomley led the Bengals with 32 points, hitting 11 of 19 overall and 5 of 7 from three-point range. Brock Mackenzie added 17 points and Jared Rodriguez had 12.

UCA travels to Chicago for a matchup with Loyola Chicago at 8 p.m. Wednesday, and returns home to the Farris Center on Tuesday, Dec. 6 to face Arkansas State.

ASUN Conference, Atlanta - the only DI conference headquartered in the ATL, our footprint's primary media, sports, business, transportation and cultural hub
The ASUN, a Division I conference member of the NCAA, boasts a membership of institutions that share visionary leadership, bold ambition and creative innovation. As a nimble adaptive conference, unafraid to blaze a national pathway for better service to our student-athletes, teams, and institutions, the ASUN has a proud history of firsts, national academic and athletic achievements and a conference culture that walks the walk with its four ASUN Beams. Students First! Rise. Connect. Impact. #ASUNBuilt by Austin Peay (Clarksville, Tenn.), Bellarmine (Louisville, Ky.), Central Arkansas (Conway, Ark.), Eastern Kentucky (Richmond, Ky.), FGCU (Fort Myers, Fla.), Jacksonville (Fla.), Jacksonville State (Jacksonville, Ala.), Kennesaw State (Ga.), Liberty (Lynchburg, Va.), Lipscomb (Nashville, Tenn.), North Alabama (Florence, Ala.), North Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.), Queens (Charlotte, N.C.) and Stetson (DeLand, Fla.).