HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A dreadful start to the second half put the University of Central Arkansas Bears in a hole they could not recover from Saturday night in a 97-57 loss to the Sam Houston Bearkats at Johnson Coliseum.
Down just 36-34 at halftime, the Bears did not score for the first 4:45 of the second half as the Bearkats ran off a 17-0 scoring spurt to effectively put the game away. The run reached 23-5 at the 12:00 mark as the first-place Bearkats made 10 of their first 16 shots, including 3 of 6 from three-point range, to open the second half.
All that resulted in the Bearkats dominating the second half 61-23.
“We just got sped up,” said UCA head coach Anthony Boone. “We got sped up, we made some careless passes, we were not in the right spots at times, and we just went away from what we were doing. We were doing a pretty good job of working with Rylan (Bergersen) and Eddy (Kayouloud) with a little power game there, getting the ball inside to those two. And even though the other team knew what we were doing, they still couldn’t stop it. And we just went away from that.”
“We got sped up and got out of our minds a little bit. Those first eight minutes of the second half is what doomed us.”
After going just 4 of 17 from beyond the arch in the first half, the Bearkats came out red-hot in the second half, hitting 9 of 14. UCA was 4 of 14 in the first half and finished 6 of 23. SHSU matched its perimeter performance from the first matchup when it connected 13 times in a 91-80 victory at the Farris Center.
The Bears matched the Bearkats for 20 minutes, leading late in the half before SHSU scored in the final seconds to grab a two-point halftime lead. UCA shot just 37.5 percent from the field but held SHSU to only 41.2 percent. Neither team could find its range from the perimeter as the Bears were 4 of 14 (28.6 percent) from three-point range and the Bearkats were even worse at 4 of 17 (23.5 percent).
“It was a great effort in the first half,” said Boone. “It looked like we were going to give ourselves a chance to have some success at the end of this game. But in the first eight minutes of the second half, they got into us (defensively), we turned the ball over quite a bit and we went away from what was successful for us in the first half.”
“At that point, the lead ballooned to 20 and from that point on ... they’re a great team, and they get momentum like that, they’re going to keep it rolling. And we kind of let go of the rope defensively there for a few minutes after that.”
Bergersen, a senior guard from Boise, Idaho, led the Bears with 13 points, while Kayouloud, a junior from Paris, France, added 11. For the game, UCA shot 35.8 percent overall, 26.1 percent from three-point range and 56.5 percent from the free-throw line.
UCA, which has dropped eight straight games after a 2-0 SLC start, returns home on Wednesday to face another contending conference team in the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (8-1 in SLC play) at 7 p.m. at the Farris Center.