Offensive woes continued Monday night as the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff dropped its third-straight game.
The UAPB men’s basketball team fell 76-63 to Jackson State at H.O. Clemmons Arena, leaving the Golden Lions seeking answers as they prepare to return to the road next weekend.
No UAPB (10-14, 5-6 SWAC) guard scored more than 9 points. Joe French said the lack of offense was more about the Golden Lions than the Tigers.
“I wouldn’t say it’s so much as their defense as much as it is us not performing as well as we should have,” French said. “We just had an all-around bad game. Every guard really didn’t play well tonight. It’s hard to win when the guys you lean on to do the scoring don’t score.”
The Golden Lions shot 43.3 percent and made six 3-pointers, but turnovers cost them again. The Tigers scored 16 points off 15 UAPB turnovers. The Golden Lions managed 2 points off six turnovers.
This came after UAPB scored 56 points on Saturday in a loss to Alcorn State, the Golden Lions’ lowest total in SWAC play. UAPB guard Rashad Williams, who averages 17.2 points per game, missed both games with a wrist injury.
UAPB coach Solomon Bozeman said without Williams, the other starting guards need to step up.
“We need Kylen [Milton], Lonnell Martin, Joe French, they gotta have big games, or at least play average with Rashad out,” Bozeman said. “We need more production out of those three guys, but I just thought they [JSU] were the more physical team. I though their physicality really bothered us.”
Robert Lewis was the lone bright spot. The sophomore forward finished with a season-high 16 points and 10 rebounds. Lewis started alongside forward Ismael Plet, a rare sight for a team which typically starts four guards.
Bozeman said UAPB needs to see more of this from Lewis going forward.
“He’s skinny, but he’s tough,” Bozeman said. “He has a motor. He’s not scared of the moment. He’s gonna fight, and that’s who he is. Gotta continue to get him to be a little bit more mature, but he’s starting to grow in that area. We gotta continue to build on this. Robert Lewis is a guy that we thought, coming into the season, could be a double-double guy, and for him to go out and get a double-double tonight was huge for our team, so we need him to continue to step up.”
Jackson State (10-14, 6-5) had four players reach double digits, including guard Keionte Cornelius and forward Jordan O’Neal. Both finished with 17 points. Cornelius made four of eight 3-point attempts.
Lonnell Martin Jr. briefly gave UAPB a 3-2 lead 39 seconds into the game with a 3-pointer, but JSU responded with a 10-0 run and never trailed again. The Tigers led 30-15 with 7:53 remaining in the first half.
The Golden Lions fought back and cut the deficit to 37-36 late in the first half. UAPB had several opportunities to tie or take the lead in the second half but didn’t take advantage. UAPB trailed 68-63 with 2:48 remaining in the game but didn’t score again.
UAPB entered the weekend tied for fifth in the SWAC but is now tied for eighth.