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Author Topic: HOWARD'S HOT NIGHT NOT ENOUGH AS BEARS FALL TO DUCKS 96-82  (Read 135 times)

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Seminole Indian

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« on: December 22, 2017, 07:53:42 am »

EUGENE, Ore. _ Senior guard Jordan Howard tied two arena records Wednesday night but the University of Central Arkansas could not overcome another slow first half as they fell to the Oregon Ducks 96-82 before a crowd of 6,908 at Matthew Knight Arena.

Howard, UCA's career three-point leader from Chandler, Ariz., scored 35 points and hit eight three pointers to lead the Bears (6-7), who had to overcome a more than six-minute scoring drought in the first half that saw the Ducks (10-3) turn a 14-14 tie into a 30-14 lead midway through the half. The Ducks ended up making it an 18-0 run that put the Bears in a hole the rest of the way.

With Howard scoring 22 of his points in the first half, the Bears managed to get to within 55-40 at halftime. UCA actually won the second half, shooting 51.6 percent from the field and outscoring Oregon 42-41. The Bears cut the deficit to single digits twice but the Pac-12 Ducks, an NCAA Final Four a year ago, had answers each time.

"It's becoming a little bit of an issue,' said UCA head coach Russ Pennell. "I'm just not happy with our defense. At times it looks good, but I just don't think the commitment is there like it needs to be. And that 18-0 run kind of did us in. I told the guys, we're a good offensive team and we can score points, but if you're going to beat a team with your offense, you better be the Golden State Warriors, because that's about the only team that can do that.

"We've got to get better at the defensive end consistently.'

After an early 5-0 lead, the Bears found themselves down 17 points to the hot-shooting Ducks midway through the first half. UCA went 6:30 without scoring and the Ducks turned in an 18-0 scoring run to take a 30-14 lead. Howard broke the drought with a three-pointer that ignited the Bears, at least from the perimeter, for the rest of the half. Howard connected on two more threes in a row and freshman center Hayden Koval added another three to close the gap to 39-29.

Howard hit consecutive threes again, from all over the court, to cut the deficit to 44-35 with 3:15 left. But the Ducks, who shot 73.3 percent in the half, kept scoring with a dunk and a pair of tip-ins. Trailing 55-38 in the final seconds, Howard closed out his 22-point half, including 6 of 6 from three-point range, with a pair of free throws to set the halftime score at 55-40.  UCA shot 45.2 percent overall and made 7 of 12 (58.3 percent) from beyond the arc.

Oregon's Payton Pritchard led the led the Ducks with 16 points at the break and finished the game with a team-high 24 points, one of four Oregon players in double figures. The Ducks cooled off in the second half but still shot 62.1 percent overall.
"I was proud of the guys for battling back,' said Pennell. "At halftime, I really challenged them. I said, you can mail this in and think about tomorrow and going home and all that, and that's totally the wrong approach. And I thought we battled, but you can't spot a really good team like Oregon that many points and expect to come back. That's the second straight game we've done that, and we as coaches need to get together and figure that out.'
Howard's 35 points and eight three-pointers gave him 123 points in UCA's four games against west coast teams this season, three from the Pac-12. He also shot 26 of 43 from three-point range in the four meetings with UCLA, San Franciso, Cal and Oregon. On Wednesday, Howard finished 12 of 17 overall, 8 of 9 from three-point range and 3 of 3 at the free-throw line.

"I thought the second half he really showed some maturity,' said Pennell, "because he could have some out and just started gunning and we would have lost by 25. But I think what he did was, he realized that they were over helping on him and that got some other guys some really good shots. What I liked was we shot 52 percent in the second and that's a lot because Jordan chose good shots and he got the rest of the team involved.

"I think that's one of the most important things for us. He's going to get his points because he's so efficient. But I think when he plays that way, we're a lot better offensive team. I really liked the way he handled the second half. People might say why didn't you set more screens for him and get him more shots. But he was hitting some pretty incredible. crazy shots in the first half and it's hard to keep that up.

"He's a special player. He's not only one of the better players in our league, he's one of the better guards in the country. We're fortunate. We're going to try to enjoy him the next 18-plus games and hopefully he can lead us to a Southland Conference championship.'

The Bears take an eight day holiday break before opening SLC play at home on Dec. 28 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 1 p.m. at the Farris Center.

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