FORT SMITH – Randall has put a scare into more than one NCAA Division II team this season, but UAFS didn’t fall victim to the Saint’s attempt at an upset on Monday night at the Stubblefield Center.
Junior guard Seth Hawley sank 1 of 2 free throws with 1.5 seconds left to give the Lions a two-point lead, and a desperation 3-point heave by Randall senior guard Brad Fickens from well beyond half court was well short as time expired to seal the Lions’ 61-59 nonconference win.
It was the second win in a row for UAFS (6-8), whose last win was a 72-67 victory against the Wisconsin-Parkside Rangers on the final night of the Coca-Cola UAFS Classic more than two weeks ago.
The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 8, and was going to be the Lions’ annual Toy Toss Game. However, wintry weather was forecasted throughout Oklahoma and Arkansas that day, leading to the game being rescheduled for Monday.
It was just the latest in oh-so-close upset bids against NCAA Division II schools for Randall, which is a NCCAA/ACCA school based in Moore, Okla. The Saints lost 78-65 at Rogers State on Dec. 14, lost 99-88 at Southwestern Oklahoma State on Dec. 29 and lost 104-98 at Lubbock Christian on Friday.
The game was tied at 28 points at halftime, but UAFS broke away from a back-and-forth struggle to twice build an eight-point lead against Randall. The last time came on layup by junior guard Kei’shon Parker with 10:41 to play that made it 47-39.
Randall trailed by four points (60-56) with seven seconds left when senior guard Antonio Wilson gave the Saints a shimmer of hope, draining a 3-pointer with three seconds left to cut the Lions’ lead to one-point (60-59).
Fickens fouled Hawley with 1.5 ticks left in the game, and Hawley sank the first free-throw attempt to make it a two-point game. Hawley’s second attempt hit iron and bounced off into the hands of Fickens, who turned and heaved up a shot that wasn’t close as time expired.
UAFS shot 45 percent from the field (23 of 51) – it was 7-of-24 shooting from 3-point range – and shot only 50 percent from the free-throw line (8 of 16). Senior guard Chris Crawford and junior guard Tyler Williams each had 12 points to lead the Lions.
Junior forward Matt Morgan, Crawford and Williams each had seven rebounds to help the Lions out-rebound the Saints by 13 rebounds (45-32). Morgan also had a team-high three blocked shots.
Randall shot 35 percent from the field (24 of 69) – it was 7-of-23 shooting from 3-point range – and shot only 50 percent from the free-throw line (4 of 8). Wilson led the Saints with 19 points, while freshman guard John Bailey had 14 points and Fickens 10 points. Wilson also had a team-high five rebounds.
It was the first of three games for the Lions this week. UAFS will resume Heartland Conference play at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday when it hosts Oklahoma Christian at the Stubblefield Center. UAFS will play the Newman Jets at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Fugate Gymnasium in Wichita, Kan.
UAFS 61, RANDALL 59
Randall 28 31 — 59
UAFS 28 33 — 61
Randall (5-11): Wilson 19, Bailey 14, Fickens 10, Lyons 8, Askew 6, Jarvis 2
UAFS (6-8): Crawford 12, Williams 12, Morgan 9, Hawley 9, Sivins 6, Warren 4, Ward 4, Ekezie 3, Parker 2.