COMMERCIAL PRESS SERVICES
COMMERCIAL PRESS SERVICES
TULSA, Okla. — With 13 minutes to go, Arkansas-Pine Bluff was in position to finish the Preseason NIT with an even record.
But too many turnovers helped SMU down the stretch, and the Mustangs evened their own winning record Tuesday evening with a 64-55 win over the Golden Lions in the teams’ final consolation game of the tournament at Oral Roberts University’s Mabee Center.
The game was tied at 35 until a layup by London Jones at the 12:47 mark started a 22-9 run for the Mustangs (3-3) of Conference USA. UAPB (1-3) committed five turnovers during the rally and finished with 12 for the game.
“We think we had some bad tournovers and missed opportunities going on our end offensively,” UAPB coach George Ivory said. “Overall, the guys played hard.”
The Lions played without junior transfer Lazabian Jackson, who sprained an ankle in Monday’s 58-56 win over Florida International. Jackson is expected to be available for UAPB’s next game at Auburn this coming Monday.
The victory over FIU snapped a 28-game nonconference losing streak dating back to Dec. 17, 2008, when the Lions beat the Mustangs.
UAPB’s largest lead was 22-19 with 6:30 left in the first half, when Mitchell Anderson converted a layup. SMU led 32-28 at halftime, and UAPB last led 33-32 with 17 minutes remaining. The game was tied at 35 for more than 3 minutes.
UAPB shot better from the floor than SMU, 43.6 percent (24 of 55) to 40.5 percent (17 of 42), but the Lions were cold from the perimeter, going 2 for 11. SMU hit 7 of 20 3-point baskets and had a big advantage in free throws (23 of 29 to UAPB’s 5 of 11).
“When you look at the stats, I thought we played well,” Ivory said. “That was a big difference. We just have to take care of the ball a little better.”
The Lions, however, outrebounded the Ponies 37-24 and controlled the offensive glass with 13 boards to SMU’s seven. Both teams combined for only 21 turnovers.
UAPB guard Savalace Townsend played the entire game, scoring 22 points and hitting 10 of 21 field goals in the process. Townsend added six rebounds and five assists.
Also for the Lions, Anderson scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Lavoris Weathers had 10 rebounds — but only scored four points.
SMU’s Robert Nyakundi hit 8 of 9 shots from the floor — including 4 of 5 treys — and finished with a game-high 27 points and five rebounds in 35 minutes of work before fouling out. London Giles and Jeremiah Samarrippas scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, for the Mustangs.