The UCA men’s basketball team (14-19, 8-10 SLC) traveled to Katy, Texas to compete in the Southland Conference Tournament starting March 13.
The Bears were the seventh seed in the tournament and their first opponent was Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (14-18, 9-9 SLC), who were the sixth seed.
The Bears beat the Islanders 73-53 in the first round of the conference tournament.
The Bears went into halftime up by a score of 36-25 with senior guard Thatch Unruh leading the team with 12 points at halftime.
Sophomore guard DeAndre Jones scored 9 points at the break. The Bears halftime lead began to dwindle as the Islanders cut the lead down to 4 points with 12:31 left in the second half of play.
The Bears proved to be too much for the Islanders to handle late in the second half as they extended their lead and regained momentum late in the game.
Unruh lead the Bears with 21 points in the game, while sophomore center Hayden Koval finished the game with a double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
The Bears shot 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from the 3-point line.
The Islanders’ leading scorer was junior guard Jashawn Talton, who finished the game with 17 points.
Senior guard Jake Babic contributed 16 points for the Islanders.
Corpus Christi shot 33.3 percent from the field and 25 percent from the 3-point line.
The Bears continued into the second round of the conference tournament with a game against the Southeastern Louisiana Lions. The game plan was simple.
“Our game plan was to play for each other and fight until the very end, but we fell short,” sophomore forward Jared Chatham said.
The Lions defeated the Bears 79-65, ending the Bears’ season. Unruh lead the Bears in the first half with 7 points, while Hayden Koval scored 6 points.
The Bears went into halftime down 36-25 and couldn’t seem to mount a comeback in the second half. Southeastern Louisiana only allowed the Bears to come within 10 points once in the second half before extending the lead further throughout the game.
The leading scorer for the Bears was Unruh, who had 23 points, while Koval scored 15 points.
The Bears shot 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from the 3-point line.
The leading scorer for the Lions was senior forward Moses Greenwood, who had 22 points, while senior guard Marlain Veal scored 15 points.
The Lions shot 48 percent from the field and 31 percent from the 3-point line.
The Bears are excited for what the future holds for the team.
“A majority of the team were underclassmen this year, and we will get a year to grow and mature. We have to use this off-season to become stronger and more conditioned,” Koval said. “Our goals for next year still stand the same. We want to be a top four team in the conference. That way, it puts us in a position to win the conference tournament and get to the NCAA Tournament.”