UALR wins first SBC game at home

LITTLE ROCK – Home court was once again good to UALR on Wednesday night, this time witnessing the Trojans’ victory in their first Sun Belt Conference game in Little Rock this season.

Taylor Gault scored 17 points in the first half alone and Taylor Ford reached a career milestone as the Trojans wiped South Alabama from the ranks of undefeated Sun Belt teams with a convincing 61-42 victory at the Jack Stephens Center.

UALR (7-6, 2-1 Sun Belt Conference) trailed in the opening minutes but used an 11-0 run to retake the lead for good over South Alabama (4-9, 2-1 SBC), improving to 5-1 this season at home. Gault finished the game with 27 points, four more than her previous best this season and a new high mark for anyone on the team this year.

Taylor Ford racked up five assists, surpassing Shanika Butler for third all-time at UALR with 357 in her career early in the second half. She also added 10 points and four rebounds. Shanity James reached double figures with 10 points and had three rebounds, while Kiera Clark scored nine and brought down five rebounds. Freshman Sharde’ Collins had a career-best and team-high six rebounds.

UALR’s two-game stretch of home games against Alabama competition continues Saturday when Troy comes to the Jack Stephens Center.

A-State improves to 3-0 in SBC

JONESBORO — Sophomore forward Jalen O’Bannon recorded her second double-double of the season and four Arkansas State (9-6, 3-0 SBC) players scored in double figures, including senior forward Jane Morrill with a game-high 20 points, to lead the Red Wolves to a 74-65 victory over Troy (4-10, 0-3) in a Sun Belt Conference women’s basketball game Wednesday night at the Convocation Center.

Morrill led the Red Wolves in scoring for the third time this season and her 20 points were her third highest total of the season. Hannah Qedan and Andrea Gamble both scored 14 points and O’Bannon added 10 to join Morrill as A-State players reaching double figures. O’Bannon also recorded a career-high five steals and pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds, helping A-State claim a 46-33 advantage on the boards.

A-State returns to the Convocation Center Jan. 11 for a matchup with South Alabama.


Harding adds Underwood

SEARCY — Harding University head football coach Ronnie Huckeba announced the hiring of Matt Underwood as the Bisons’ co-offensive coordinator. Underwood will replace Kevin Chism, who will be moving back to private business but will still serve as a volunteer offensive line coach.

Underwood is a native of Searcy, Ark., graduated from Harding Academy in 1998 and earned his B.A. in social science from Harding University in 2003.

Underwood played quarterback and special teams for the Harding football team from 1998-2002. He was a team captain on the 2002 team that finished 9-2.

Underwood comes back to Harding after spending the last four seasons as the head coach at Jackson (Tenn.) Christian School. He led the team to two Tennessee Division II state playoff berths.

Prior to his time at Jackson Christian, Underwood was the offensive coordinator at Memphis (Tenn.) Harding Academy from 2004-09.

Carpenter, Bowers complete UCA coaching crew

CONWAY — Ron Carpenter and Harland Bower are the final two pieces to the University of Central Arkansas football coaching staff puzzle, new head coach Steve Campbell announced Wednesday.

Carpenter, most recently the cornerbacks and special teams coach at Miami of Ohio, played six years in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, the Cincinnati Bengals, the New York Jets and the St. Louis Rams, where he won a Super Bowl ring in 1999.

Carpenter, who will coach the safeties at UCA, was a standout for the Miami Redhawks, earning first-team All-Mid-American Conference honors three times.

Bower, who will coach outside linebackers, is a former Georgia Southern player and was at that school when UCA beat the Eagles 34-31 in overtime in the 2006 season finale in the Bears’ first year at the NCAA Division I level. Bower spent the past season as a graduate assistant at Troy University, and also spent one season on the Rutgers University staff and one on the Murray State staff.

Campbell’s staff consists of three coaches retained from the previous staff and eight newcomers.

A-State names Elarbee co-offensive coordinator

JONESBORO — Arkansas State head football coach Blake Anderson has announced that Glen Elarbee has been named the Red Wolves’ co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.

Elarbee most recently spent the 2013 season as the offensive line coach for the University of Houston, helping lead the Cougars to an 8-5 record and an appearance in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Elarbee was part of the offensive staff that helped the Cougars average 420.7 yards of total offense, including 280.9 passing yards per game that ranked 26th in the nation. Houston also ranked 38th in the nation scoring offense with 33.2 points per game.

His lone season at Houston saw him tutor starting left tackle DeAnthony Sims, who earned all-league recognition from the American Athletic Conference after playing a total of 899 offensive snaps with 36 knockdown blocks. Sims was part of an offense that ranked second in the AAC in scoring and fourth in sacks allowed.

Elarbee has ties to the Sun Belt Conference as well, serving as former league member Middle Tennessee’s offensive line coach in 2012 before joining the Houston staff. The Blue Raiders’ offensive line ranked second nationally in sacks allowed under Elarbee, giving up just seven on 344 pass attempts. The group, which included All-Sun Belt performer Micah James, also helped pave the way for three different 100-yard rushers.

A-State names Bell assistant head coach

JONESBORO — Arkansas State head football coach Blake Anderson has announced that Walt Bell has been named offensive coordinator for the Red Wolves and will also serve as the team’s assistant head coach while overseeing the quarterbacks position.

Bell spent the last four seasons working with Anderson on the coaching staffs at both Southern Miss and North Carolina, but his ties to the Red Wolves’ new head coach date back to 2004 when he played wide receiver at Middle Tennessee and was tutored under Anderson as his position coach.

Bell, who has been a part of eight bowl games as either a coach or player, comes to Arkansas State after spending the last two seasons as North Carolina’s tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Bell was part of an offensive staff that helped North Carolina break over 35 school records, including total offense.

His time at North Carolina saw the Tar Heels claim 15 victories, including a 39-17 win over Cincinnati in the 2013 Belk Bowl. Bell was responsible for calling the offensive plays in North Carolina’s bowl game after Anderson had accepted the head coaching position at Arkansas State. North Carolina posted three offensive touchdowns and 345 yards in the contest, including 174 rushing and 171 passing yards.

Working alongside Anderson, Bell helped lead North Carolina to 432.4 total yards per game during the 2013 regular season. Coaching the tight ends position, he was part of a passing game that ranked 28th in the nation with an average of 277.4 yards per game. Bell also helped lead UNC to the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title, the same year the Tar Heels ranked 14th nationally with 485.6 yards per game.