FORT SMITH, Ark. – UAFS shot a sizzling 83 percent from the field in overtime as the nationally-ranked Lions avoided an upset and beat the Lubbock Christian Chaps 82-74 in Heartland Conference play on Saturday at the Stubblefield Center.
It was the fourth win in a row for the Lions, who are ranked No. 17 in the latest NABC Division II Top 25. UAFS (18-3, 7-3) remained in a tie for second place with Rogers State (14-6, 5-3). No. 22 Dallas Baptist (17-3, 7-2) still leads the conference after beating St. Mary’s on Saturday.
UAFS trailed by six points at halftime (40-34) and fell behind by as many 10 points in the second half before rallying in the final two minutes. Senior guard Ladarius Coleman drained a 3-pointer with 1:59 left in regulation to give the Lions a one-point lead (62-61).
Lubbock Christian regained the lead 63-62 on a pair of free throws by guard Isaac Asrat with 1:30 to play and, after UAFS tied the game at 63-63 on a free throw by senior guard Darrion Strong-Moore with 1:18 left, the Chaps regained the lead again on a layup by forward Brennen Fowler with 24 seconds left.
Junior guard Chris Crawford was fouled by Asrat with 19 seconds left and made both free throws to tie the game at 65-65. Lubbock Christian got one last look at a game-winning shot, but guard Ja’Qualyn Gilbreath missed a desperation 3-pointer to force overtime.
UAFS quickly took the game over in overtime, scoring five-unanswered points on a 3-pointer by senior guard Marcus Wallace and a layup by senior guard DaVaunta Thomas. The Lions never trailed in the extra period, pushing their lead to as many as nine points (79-70) with 1:49 left in overtime.
The Lions shot 42 percent from the field for the game (25 of 59) – they were 9-of-21 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 79 percent from the free-throw line (23 of 29). Strong-Moore led the Lions with 15 points, while Coleman and Thomas had 13 apiece, freshman forward Adam Rivera had 12 and sophomore guard Kyree Elder had 10.
Coleman topped off his double-double with 15 rebounds, helping the Lions reach a draw in their rebounding battle with the Chaps (39-39).
Lubbock Christian (9-11, 5-4) shot 39 percent from the field (22 of 57) – the Chaps were 7-of-23 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 68 percent from the free-throw line (23 of 34). Asrat led the Chaps with 18 points, while Fowler had 17, guard Marcos Schuster 15 and guard Jay Workman 11.
Workman, Schuster and Asrat each had seven rebounds apiece.