Little Rock Trojans Make School History with Win over UCA

The Little Rock Trojans continued to roll last night at home in the Stephens Center, holding off a late surge from University of Central Arkansas (UCA) to win 79-73.

The win brings the Trojans to 6-0, making it the best start in school history since joining NCAA Division I basketball.

“First of all, I give all the credit to the players,” first-year head coach Chris Beard said after the win. “It’s nothing I’ve done, they’re the ones who have bought in. They’re the ones scoring baskets and getting stops and working hard. I’m just proud to be their coach”

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Before tonight, just two previous Trojan teams (1994-95 and 2008-09) had started a season 5-0.  Three of the Trojan’s victories this year came away from home which lifted the Trojans to a #2 spot in the API rankings (now back down to #11) which measure a school’s win/loss record versus strength of schedule.

“To start off 6-0, which is a record, that means a lot because of all the players and coaches that came here before us,” Beard said. “You think of all the successful teams and successful coaches and great players, for us to be a part of history in a small way is pretty special, and that’s something that we embrace.

The Trojans have little room to celebrate though with upcoming road games against Idaho, Depaul, and Big-12 opponent Texas Tech before moving into conference play. Both of the previous 5-0 starts resulted in a down season without a trip to a post season tournament. While the start is nice, this year’s squad must stay focused.

Even in the tough games Little Rock has found a way to win, often coming from behind to secure a victory. Against UCA it was a different story, needing to hold on after a 10 point halftime lead thanks in part to strong bench play which outscored the UCA’s 50-19 including the Trojan’s Marcus Johnson who led all scorers with 28 points.

Out of halftime UCA started off by scoring nine of the first 11 point to cut the deficit to three on Jake Zuilhof’s layup that made it 40-37 with 16:20 to play. The Trojans answered with a Johnson triple that jump started a 7-0 run to get the margin back to 10.
The Bears continued to hang around and made a late push to trim the deficit to four. With Little Rock leading by 11 with 1:33 to go, UCA rattled off seven unanswered points to pull within four, 75-71, with 30 seconds to play.
The Trojans’ defense came up big when it mattered most, forcing the Bears into consecutive offensive fouls and hitting four straight free throws to make it an eight-point game with 12 seconds to play. Jordan Howard’s jumper in the final seconds brought the game to its 79-73 final score.
Little Rock returns to action on Saturday when it hits to the road to face Idaho. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. (CST).

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Little Rock Trojans Make School History with Win over UCA