FORT SMITH, Ark. – UAFS held off a late rally by the University of Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils on Saturday afternoon, and the nationally-ranked Lions continued their best start of their NCAA Division II era with a 90-84 win at Steelman Fieldhouse in Monticello.
It was the final game of the fall semester for the Lions, who are ranked No. 4 in the latest D2SIDA Top 25 and No. 9 in the latest NABC Division II Top 25. UAFS will return to action on Thursday, Jan. 4, when the Lions play Oklahoma Christian at the Eagles Nest in Oklahoma City.
UAFS led by 13 points at halftime (50-37) and by 15 points (52-37) almost a minute into the second half. UAM, though, rallied and cut the Lions’ lead to only one point (84-83) on a layup by senior guard Cobe Goosby with 1:20 left to play.
The Lions halted the Boll Weevils’ run with a jumper by senior guard DaVaunta Thomas with 51 seconds left, and sophomore guard Kyree Elder sank a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left to give UAFS a five-point lead (88-83).
Goosby hit the second of two free throws to cut the Lions’ lead to four points (88-84) with 23 seconds left, but Elder put the game away for the Lions with a pair of free-throws with 16 seconds left.
UAFS shot a sizzling 59 percent from the field (36 of 61) – it was 8-of-18 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 83 percent from the free-throw line (10 of 12). Senior guard Darrion Strong-Moore scored a team-high 22 points, while Elder had 21, Thomas 17 and freshman forward Adam Rivera 14.
The Lions out-rebounded the Boll Weevils by eight rebounds (36-28) with Elder and Thomas each grabbing a team-high seven rebounds.
UAM shot 47 percent from the field (29 of 62) – it was just 5-of-22 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 70 percent from the free-throw line (21 of 30). Senior forward Derylton Hill scored a team-high 22 points, while senior guard Karim Mawuenyega had 21, Goosby 18 and senior guard Tyrin Jones 14.
Hill just missed a double-double, finishing with eight rebounds.