MONTICELLO – The Arkansas-Monticello men's basketball team escaped Saturday with a 53-43 victory over Delta State at Steelman Fieldhouse.

MONTICELLO – The Arkansas-Monticello men’s basketball team escaped Saturday with a 53-43 victory over Delta State at Steelman Fieldhouse.

“I don’t want to speak on the behalf of Delta State, but we are both not great offensive teams,” UAM head coach Allen Sharpe said. “The last time we played them, we won 51-48 and tonight it was 53-43. Neither team is a real threat to score a lot of points.”

Sharpe said his zone defense helped the Boll Weevils score points when they needed them.

With under 4 minutes left to play in the first half, UAM trailed 21-16 after DSU’s Terry Leake grabbed an offensive rebound and score inside.

But the Boll Weevils would rally back thanks to a pair of free throws by Jamal Nixon, an offensive board and put back by Kori Forge and a fast break lay-up by Ramon Mejia.

With about 30 seconds left in the first half, UAM had taken a one-point lead.

Forge, who averages about 20 points per game, was held to just four points in the first half.

“When he doesn’t score, it shows,” Sharpe. “I told him that at halftime and he knows it. He has to be a threat for us.”

Forge started the second half by scoring six points in about 3 minutes including a three-pointer from the top of the arch.

His free throw with 16:54 left in the game gave UAM a 28-27 lead.

Forge finished with 15 points. Nixon and Josh Gibson each contributed with 12 points. A.J. Calhoun led UAM with seven rebounds.

For DSU, Leake lead all scorers with 17 points and 14 rebounds. He also had a steal and an assist. Cornell Knight added nine points and Jack Madgen had eight.

UAM improves to 5-4 on the season while DSU drops to 2-5.

Sharpe said Nixon’s steal and score with less than 2 minutes left in the game proved to be the nail in the coffin as UAM took a 47-42 lead at that point.

“It was a huge play,” Sharpe said.

UAM shot 37 percent from the field on 16-of-43 shooting. They were 3 of 18 from the three-point range and were 18 of 26 from the charity stripe.

DSU was 15 of 50 from the floor and 6 of 17 from beyond the arch. The Statesmen made 7 of 12 from the free throw line.

UAM will host Southwest Baptist on Monday. SBU leads the all-time series against the Boll Weevils 3-0, including a 78-69 victory earlier this season.

After an 88-82 loss against Central Oklahoma, the Bearcats now sit at 2-7 on the season. SBU is led in scoring by Preston Gold, who averages 11.4 points per game, while Jaywaun Hill, Damion Hooks and Kyle Sloan all average over eight points per game.

The game is scheduled to tip-off at 7 p.m.