The UCA Bears (7-15, 6-5 SLC) appear to have found their rhythm towards the end of the regular season as they won both of their matchups this past week with a blowout win against the Southeastern Louisiana Lions (6-15, 3-8 SLC) and a
come-from-behind win against the Northwestern State Demons (8-12, 5-6 SLC).
The Bears were able to get a much needed victory on Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the Farris Center against the Lions, breaking the Bears three game losing streak.
The Lions appeared to have control of the game early as they built a nine-point lead with a little under ten minutes remaining in the first half in part because they were able to beat the Bears in the paint battle with 22 points compared to the Bears 10.
The Bears were also cold from the three point line, shooting 4-15 with over half of their total shots coming from downtown. The Bears were able to overcome this and go into halftime with a 40-38 lead.
The Bears came to play in the second half as their defense was able to cause 15 turnovers and junior guard Rylan Bergersen surged for a game high 20 points while also grabbing 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Junior center Hayden Koval also found his rhythm in the second half, showing off his defense finishing with 2 blocks, but he also got it going on the offensive side of the ball, finishing with 18 points after not hitting a shot in the first half and also finishing with 14 rebounds after only getting 5 in the first half.
“It’s just a matter of completing two halves. We didn’t play so well in the first of this game, but we played really well in the second half so we just need to have a complete game,” Koval said. “I’m sure if we play like we did in the second half all 40 minutes at Northwestern State, we’ll come up with the win.”
The Bears were able to take the momentum from that game into the weekend as they were able to come from behind and beat the Northwestern State Demons 79-71 for their first road win of the season on Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Prather Coliseum in Louisiana after being down 27-43 going into halftime.
Coming into the game, both teams were tied for sixth place in the Southland Conference so plenty was at stake.
Sophomore forward Eddy Kayouloud led the team in scoring with 18 points and Bergersen followed up his good performance from Wednesday night finishing with 15 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists. Junior guard Deandre Jones and sophomore forward SK Shittu also finished with double digit points as they scored 13 and 12 points respectively.
With all of the noise that the Bears have had to deal with on and off the court this season, Interim Head Coach Anthony Boone couldn’t have asked for a better time for his team to come together and get a good couple of wins against tough opponents.
“It’s not a matter of who we’re playing, it’s not a matter of being at home or on the road, what we’re telling our guys is we’re trying to play to a standard and if we do that and give our best in that then the games will take care of themselves,” Boone said. “It doesn’t matter where we are, we’re playing to that standard.”
The UCA Bears will continue their road trip as they face the Lamar Cardinals (11-11, 5-6 SLC) next on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at Montagne Center in Beaumont, Texas and then the McNeese State Cowboys (12-10, 7-4 SLC) on Feb. 8 at H&HP Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana.