FORT SMITH, Ark. – UAFS exacted a bit of revenge against St. Edward’s on Saturday afternoon as the nationally-ranked Lions beat the Hilltoppers 79-63 in Heartland Conference play at the Stubblefield Center.
It was the third win in a row for the Lions (21-4, 9-4), which avenged its 83-75 loss to the Hilltoppers on Jan. 11 at the Recreation and Convocation Center in Austin, Texas. More importantly, the win kept the Lions, who are ranked No. 21 in the latest NABC Division II Top 25 and No. 23 in the latest D2SIDA Top 25, in a three-way tie for first place in the conference.
UAFS, Newman (13-11, 9-4) and No. 22 Dallas Baptist (19-5, 8-4) are all tied for first place and own a one-game lead over Lubbock Christian (12-12, 8-5).
It was the first of four remaining regular-season, conference games for UAFS, which will play at Texas A&M International on Thursday, at St. Mary’s on Saturday and host Oklahoma Christian on Feb. 22 in the regular-season finale at the Stubblefield Center.
UAFS shot 49 percent from the field (31 of 63) – it was just 4-of-12 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 77 percent from the free-throw line (13 of 17). Senior guard Ladarius Coleman scored a team-high 18 points, while senior guard Darrion Strong-Moore had 15 and senior guard DaVaunta Thomas had 14.
The Lions out-rebounded the Hilltoppers by 13 rebounds (48-35), including 11 offensive rebounds that led to 12 second-chance points. Coleman topped off his double-double with 14-rebound performance.
St. Edward’s, which trailed by 13 points at halftime, shot only 34 percent from the field (24 of 70) – it was 7-of-26 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 67 percent from the free-throw line (8 of 12).
Guard Landon Goesling scored a team-high 19 points, while forward Dorian Lopez had 15 and guard Sean Watkins had 11. Lopez topped off his double-double with 10 rebounds.