Leader Blues

Friday, December 19, 2008

SPORTS>> Trojans’ rally falls short vs. Memphis

By JOE ANGOLIA
UALR sports information

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The UALR men’s basketball team (7-3) battled back from an 18-point second-half deficit on Wednesday night to pull within five points before dropping a 59-51 decision to the No. 21 Memphis Tigers at FedExForum.

Former North Pulaski player Steven Moore led the Trojans with 16 points.

Memphis (6-2) led 50-32 with 8:07 remaining after a bucket by Antonio Anderson, but went the rest of the game without a field goal. The Trojans, who held Memphis to a 33 percent shooting percentage, pulled within five points on three separate occasions, but were unable to get any closer.

“I’m proud of our guys for continuing to fight and compete in an adverse situation, after being down 18 in this kind of environment with a hostile crowd against us,” said UALR head coach Steve Shields. “The thing we have to do is learn from some of those situational mistakes that cost us tonight, but I’m proud of our guys’ ability to continue to fight, scrap and claw their way back into the game.”

The smaller Trojans out-rebounded the Tigers 38-36, including a plus-6 rebounding margin in the second half. Both teams shot 33.3 percent from the field, but Memphis converted 26 of 40 trips to the foul line, while the Trojans made just 15 trips to the charity stripe — making eight.

“I thought our guys did an excellent job of closing gaps defensively and a very good job on the defensive glass,” added Shields. “Memphis is a team that had 25 offensive rebounds at Georgetown last Saturday and only had nine tonight.”

Three players scored in double figures for the Tigers, led by 15 points from Robert Dozier, who went 3 for 4 from the field and 9 of 12 at the foul line. Tyreke Evans chipped in 12 points and four assists, while Shawn Taggart contributed 12 points off the bench, despite going 3 of 11 from the field.

Moore led the Trojans in scoring for the fifth consecutive outing, finishing, with a game-high 16 points off the bench. Senior John Fowler added eight points for the Trojans and led all players with nine rebounds.

The Trojans led 19-18 after a three-point play by Moore with 8:46 left in the first half, but would be outscored 12-3 the rest of the way after managing just one field goal after Moore’s bucket. UALR held the Tigers to 32 percent shooting over the first 20 minutes, including a 2-of-11 effort from three-point range, but shot just 27.6 percent themselves.

The Tigers used a quick 8-0 run in the second half to extend their lead to 45-28 with 14:16 remaining. Down 50-34 with 7:08 to go, the Trojans mounted a comeback with a quick 8-0 spurt, sparked by three pointers from freshman Curtis Jackson and sophomore Matt Mouzy.

UALR made it a two-possession game, 51-45, off a three-pointer by Moore with 2:27 to play, and pulled within five three times after that, but the Tigers converted 8 of 12 foul shots the rest of the way to preserve the win.

The Trojans return to action tonight at 7 p.m. when they open Sun Belt Conference play against Arkansas State at the Jack Stephens Center.