FORT SMITH, Ark. – UAFS senior guard DaVaunta Thomas tied a career-high scoring mark and set a career-high in rebounding on Thursday night, but that wasn’t enough for the nationally-ranked Lions, who opened their tough two-game road trip with an 83-75 loss to the St. Edward’s Hilltoppers at the Convocation and Recreation Center in Austin, Texas.
The Lions (14-2, 3-2) slipped out of a three-way tie for first place and into a tie for second place with Newman (6-9, 3-2), St. Edward’s (13-4, 3-2) and Rogers State (11-5, 2-2).
UAFS, which is ranked No. 13 in the latest D2SIDA Top 25 and No. 14 in the latest NABC Division II Top 25, will play the league-leading No. 23 Dallas Baptist Patriots (13-2, 3-1) at 5 p.m. on Saturday at The Burg Center in Dallas.
Thomas led the Lions with 27 points, tying his career-best mark first set against Pittsburg State on Nov. 18 at the Stubblefield Center. He was one of four Lions to score in double-figures – senior guard Darrion Strong-Moore (17), senior guard Ladarius Coleman (10) and senior guard Marcus Wallace (10).
The Hilltoppers held the Lions to just 36-percent shooting from the field (25 of 70) – the Lions were 5-of-19 shooting from the free-throw line – and UAFS shot only 69 percent from the free-throw line (20 of 29).
UAFS committed 15 turnovers that led to 25 points for St. Edward’s, which led by eight points (43-35) at halftime.
Thomas set a career-high with 16 rebounds – his previous career-high was 14 rebounds against Pittsburg State on Nov. 18 – and helped the Lions out-rebound the Hilltoppers by 17 rebounds. UAFS collected 24 offensive rebounds that led to 14 second-chance points.
St. Edward’s junior guard Landon Goesling proved tough to stop for the Lions. Goesling scored a team-high 31 points and was one of three Hilltoppers to score in double-figures – sophomore forward Dorian Lopez (17) and junior forward James Taylor (12). Lopez topped off his double-double with 14 rebounds.
The Hilltoppers shot 42 percent from the field (28 of 66) – they were 7-of-25 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 77 percent from the free-throw line (20 of 26).