FORT SMITH – A late second-half rally by UAFS came up just short as the Lions dropped a hard-fought, Heartland Conference road game to the St. Mary’s Rattlers 76-73 on Saturday at Bill Greehey Arena in San Antonio, Texas.
It was the second game of a two-game road stint for the Lions (8-12, 2-6), who finished 1-1 during that span. UAFS opened the road trip with a 26-point win at Texas A&M International on Thursday night at the Kinesiology and Convocation Building in Laredo, Texas.
UAFS trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half and by 12 points at halftime (40-28), but the Lions rallied in the second half and twice cut their deficit to only one point – the last time coming on layup by junior guard Seth Hawley that made it 69-68 with 59 seconds left in the game.
St. Mary’s, though, stretched its lead to six points twice in the final seconds – the last time coming of a pair of free throws by freshman guard Caleb Jordan that made it 76-70 with seven seconds left.
Senior guard Chris Crawford gave the Lions a glimmer of hope with a 3-pointer with one second left. Crawford then forced a steal, but he couldn’t get a shot off before time expired.
Crawford led the Lions with 22 points, including four 3-pointers. Hawley added 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and junior guard Tyler Williams had 14 points, including four 3-pointers.
UAFS shot 44 percent from the field (25 of 57) – it was 13-of-32 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 71 percent from the free-throw line (10 of 14).
Junior forward Matt Morgan, Williams and junior forward David Ekezie each had four rebounds to lead a balanced UAFS rebounding effort, but still, the Lions were out-rebounded by 17 rebounds. UAFS allowed 21 offensive rebounds by St. Mary’s, which led to 11 second-chance points for the Rattlers.
St. Mary’s shot 44 percent from the field (29 of 66) – it was 4-of-12 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 74 percent from the free-throw line (14 of 19). Jordan scored a team-high 14 points, senior guard Skyler Brooks and Isenhower had 13 points apiece and junior forward Matej Gaspert had 12 points.
Junior forward Curtlon Wesley had a team-high 10 rebounds.
UAFS will return to conference play at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday when the Lions host the Rogers State Hillcats at the Stubblefield Center for the start of the second round of conference play.
ST. MARY’S 76, UAFS 73
UAFS 28 45 — 73
St. Mary’s 40 36 — 76
UAFS (8-12, 2-6): Crawford 22, Hawley 16, Williams 14, Parker 5, Boyer 4, Morgan 4, Ward 2, Warren 2, Bowie 2, Ekezie 2
St. Mary’s (10-9, 2-5): Jordan 14, Brooks 13, Isenhower 13, Gaspert 12, Radojicic 8, Peterson 8, Wesley 5, Laing 3