UALR holds off Georgia State in the second half

LITTLE ROCK – Despite seeing a large first-half lead nearly completely evaporate, the UALR women’s basketball team held on to grab a hard-fought 64-58 win against Georgia State in the Jack Stephens Center on Wednesday night.

The Trojans (16-11, 11-6 Sun Belt) were holding a 60-56 lead against the Panthers (12-17, 8-9) with less than half a minute to go and the shot clock running down when the ball found Taylor Ford on the left wing. Just as she did against Texas State on Jan. 22, the senior coolly knocked down a dagger three to secure the win.

A hot night from freshman Keanna Keys, who posted a career-best 13 points and eight rebounds, led four Trojans in double figures. Taylor Gault added 17 off the bench to top all scorers while Shanity James had 14 points, six rebounds and a career-best four steals while Ford did it all with 11 points, seven assists and six boards.

During the game, Ford recorded her 400th career assist. Gault moved to sole possession of sixth all-time at UALR with her 101st career 3-pointer, and Sharde’ Collins got the 50th rebound of her young career.

The Trojans are back in action on Saturday when they look to close out the home conference schedule undefeated. Their opponent will be ULM.

Huber earns conference honors

FORT SMITH — Justyne Huber led the UAFS women’s basketball team in scoring and rebounding and logged the second most minutes of playing time on the team. Such feats are signs of a seasoned veteran.

Huber, however , is just a freshman.

The 6-foot-1 guard/forward from Prairie Grove, Ark., made an immediate impact on a young Lady Lions team this season, and her efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the coaches in the Heartland Conference, who voted Huber Honorable Mention All-Conference and Freshman of the Year.

Huber was without a doubt the Lady Lions’ most consistent player this season. She scored in double-figures in 17 of the 26 games she played and collected double-digit rebounds in five games. She posted five double-doubles.

Huber led the team with 11.8 points per game and scored in double-figures the final eight games of the season. She also led the team in rebounding with seven rebounds per game. She was second on the team with 15 blocked shots. She averaged 30.3 minutes per game, too.

Harding jumps to No. 1 in regional rankings

SEARCY – The Harding women’s basketball team jumped to No. 1 in the NCAA Division II Central Region in the regional rankings released on Wednesday. Harding holds a 27-1 overall record and a 24-1 in-region record.

It is the first week Harding has been in the first spot. In the first two rankings, the Lady Bisons were ranked No. 2.

The 64-team tournament field will be announced on March 9. The selection show will be broadcasted on Click here for the link.

Eight teams will make the NCAA Central Region Tournament held March 14-17. Three automatic bids will be awarded to the three conference tournament champions (Great American, MIAA and Northern Sun) and five teams will receive at-large berths based on the rankings.

Golden Suns place two on honorable mention squads

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. — The 2013-14 Great American Conference postseason awards have been announced, and two Golden Suns players earned honorable mention all-GAC picks, the league office announced Wednesday.

Junior Jacinda Myers-Sanders and freshman Anissa Pounds both earned honorable mention selections to the All-Great American Conference squads in their first season in an Arkansas Tech uniform.

Myers-Sanders, a native of Tampa, Fla., has started 23 games this season, ranking third on the Tech squad with a 11.5 points per game average. She shot 56.6 percent from the floor, and leads the Golden Suns with 7.2 rebounds per game.

Pounds, a native of Kotka, Finland, has also seen the starting lineup in 23 games and is tied for the team lead with 13.2 points per game. A 43 percent shooter, Pounds has hit a team-high 56 3-pointers this season. She leads the Golden Suns with 77 assists, and is tied for second on the squad with 33 steals.

The Golden Suns will open play at the Great American Conference Championship Tournament on Friday facing fifth-seeded Southeastern Oklahoma.


UAFS players, coach earn conference accolades

FORT SMITH — Two UAFS men’s basketball players and coach Josh Newman have earned conference honors for their performances during the recently-completed Heartland Conference regular season.

Senior guard Jake Toupal was named First Team All-Conference and Player of the Year. Freshman guard Seth Youngblood was named Second Team All-Conference and Freshman of the Year. Newman was named Coach of the Year.

Toupal, a native of Broken Arrow, Okla., averaged a team-high 14.5 points per game while shooting 42 percent from the field (106 for 251), 40 percent from 3-point range (58 for 144) and 86 percent from the free-throw line (49 for 57).

He led the team with 20 steals and was fourth on the team with 41 assists.

Toupal led the conference in free-throw shooting percentage.

Youngblood, a native of Roland, Okla., averaged a team-high 14.5 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field (122 for 244), 44 percent from 3-point range (72 for 163) and 79 percent from the free-throw line (60 for 76).

Youngblood was third in the conference in 3-point shooting percentage.

Newman guided the Lions to a 21-5 overall record and a 14-4 conference record during the regular season. UAFS won the outright conference title for the second consecutive season and earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament for the second year in a row.

The Lions were ranked as high as No. 16 in the NABC/Division II Coaches Top 25 and are currently ranked No. 5 in the NCAA South Central Region rankings. The Lions reached the 20-win mark for the first time since becoming members of Division II five seasons ago.

The Heartland Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament will begin at the Stubblefield Center on Friday with two opening-round games. The No. 1 seed Lions will play the No. 4 seed University of Texas of the Permian Basin Falcons at 5:30 p.m., and the No. 2 seed Texas A&M International Dustdevils will play the No. 3 seed St. Mary’s Rattlers at 7:30 p.m. The championship game will be at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Hatchett earns All-GAC, Karleskint’s coach of the year

RUSSELLVILLE — Arkansas Tech senior Bobby Hatchett has been named to the all-Great American Conference first team while the Wonder Boys head coach Doug Karleskint was named the Great American Conference Coach of the Year.

Hatchett led the Wonder Boys offense with a team-high 11.9 points per game this regular season. He also contributed with 3.7 rebounds per game and a team-high 24.9 minutes per contest.

Marshawn Arnold was given an all-conference honorable mention after his successful season with the Wonder Boys. Arnold was second in scoring on the team with 10.2 points per game and tied for a team-high in rebounds with 4.4 per game.

Karleskint won his second Coach of the Year honor after leading the Wonder Boys to a 20-8, 15-5 GAC record and a GAC regular season championship. Karleskint has reached the NCAA D-II tournament in each of the three years he has been at Tech. He won his first GAC Coach of the Year award in 2011-12 when he led Tech to a GAC regular season championship and GAC tournament championship.

The top-seeded Wonder Boys will take on the Southeastern Oklahoma State Savage Storm tomorrow in the opening round of the GAC tournament.

Pennell to become new UCA coach

CONWAY — The University of Central Arkansas will host a news conference at 1 p.m. Friday to announce Russ Pennell as its new head men’s basketball coach, according to Dr. Brad Teague, UCA director of athletics.

Pennell, who played at UCA from 1982-84, was interim coach at the University of Arizona in 2008-09 and head coach at Grand Canyon University from 2009-2013. He most recently coached the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA.

Pennell, a native of Pittsburg, Kan., has an extensive background as a collegiate assistant coach, at Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Arizona State and Arizona.

Pennell, 53, will replace UCA interim Coach Clarence Finley, who replaced Corliss Williamson last August when he left to be an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings in the National Basketball Association.

The news conference will be held in the Board Room at Wingo Hall on the UCA campus.

Wilson earns All-GAC honor

BARTLESVILLE, Okla. – After scoring over 500 points in his first and only season with the University of Arkansas at Monticello men’s basketball team, senior forward Brandon Wilson has been rewarded with a spot on the All-Great American Conference First Team, announced Wednesday evening at the GAC Championship Tournament Welcome Banquet in downtown Bartlesville, Okla.

Wilson, from Rayville, La., finished the regular season with 506 points, one of only two players in the league to reach 500. He ranked second in the league behind Southern Nazarene’s CJ Smith in scoring with an average of 18.1 points per game. In addition, he ranked fourth in rebounding (7.6 per game), sixth in field goal percentage (57.6) and fourth in blocked shots (1.7 per game). He led the league in offensive rebounds (3.3 per game).

Wilson and the Weevils open the 2014 GAC Championship Tournament on Thursday at noon against No. 6 seed Henderson State. UAM is the No. 3 seed for a third-straight year in the event with an overall record of 19-9.

UAM enters regional rankings

MONTICELLO — The University of Arkansas at Monticello men’s basketball team has been ranked No. 10 in this week’s NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Regional Rankings. UAM is 19-9 overall (15-9 against D2) and begins participation in the Great American Conference Championship Tournament on Thursday. The top eight from each region advance to the NCAA tournament. For the first time in its three-year existence, the GAC will have the benefit of an automatic qualifier given to the winner of this week’s conference championship tournament. Arkansas Tech, the GAC’s regular season champion, is ranked No. 7 in the region this week.