Thanks to a stifling defense, the UCA men’s basketball team got their first taste of victory Nov. 7 in the Farris Center over Hendrix College 71-51.
The Bears (1-2) came into this game after a loss to the nationally ranked Baylor University on Nov. 5. Baylor held UCA to only 61 points in the game and UCA shot 36% from the field.
Coming into the Hendrix game UCA needed to shoot better, but head coach Russ Pennel proirtized the defensive end.
“Our defense needs to be our mainstay for us to succeed,” Pennel said.
Junior center Hayden Koval echoed Pennel’s statement, citing the importance of defense.
“If our defense is up to our standards, I feel like we can compete with anyone,” Koval said.
Still, Hendrix came out swinging in the first half and scored the first five points of the game, but UCA responded with six points of their own.
The teams went back and forth in the first half, but UCA was able to start pulling away and held a 25-11 lead over Hendrix at the end of the first half.
However, UCA was only 10-32 from the field as well as 1-9 from the three-point line in the half.
Even with the lead, it felt like UCA was not as crisp as they would have liked to be.
The second half was a completely different story.
Coming out of the half, UCA was getting whatever they wanted in the paint — scoring their first 12 points there. Hendrix scored more efficiently in the second half, but was never able to cut the score to under 10.
UCA cruised to a 20 point win for their first win of the season.
Sophomore forward Eddy Kayouloud led the team in points with 11 and recorded two blocks and two steals on the defensive end as well.
“[Kayouloud] will have a really good UCA career,” Pennel said. “He is a much better player on both sides of the floor.”
The Bears improved their shooting in the second half and finished with a healthy clip of 14-26.
The Bears also held Hendrix to only 27% shooting for the game.
“Our attention to detail was tremendous,” Pennel said about the team’s defense.
Following the Hendrix game, UCA headed to Washington, D.C. for a matchup with Georgetown University Nov. 8.
Despite the 89-78 loss, the Bears held their own in that game.
Koval had 21 points in that game and led the team in that category. However, UCA was held to 38% shooting from the field.
Georgetown’s three-point shooting was the story of that game, as were 8-22 from deep and knocked down six in the first half.
UCA now looks ahead to another nationally ranked opponent, Duke University, at the Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina. This will be one of UCA’s biggest challenges of the early season and the team looks to play a quality game against this talented Duke team.
“The margin of error is really thin,” Pennel said. “We want to play as long as you can with the game in balance.”
The game will be played Nov. 12 at 6 p.m., followed by a matchup with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Nov. 17 in the Farris Center.