uca falls to jacksonville state in cbi quarterfinals west la college emt

CONWAY, ark. (UCA) – the university of central arkansas bears closed out a record-setting season with an 80-59 loss to jacksonville state on monday night in the quarterfinals of the college basketball invitational (CBI) in front of a crowd of 2,570 at the farris center.

The loss closed the stellar careers of seniors jordan howard, mathieu kamba and ethan lee, who won an NCAA division I record 18 games in their fourth season of a major program overhaul. Howard, the leading scorer in the nation this season and the career scoring leader and three-point leader in UCA and arkansas history, ended with a 15-point effort. The southland conference player of the year added two more three-pointers to his career total, giving him 386, breaking the UCA record by a whopping 180 threes.Double figures

The bears (18-17), who were coming off a first-round CBI victory over seattle last wednesday on the road, started flat and dug themselves a deep early hole. UCA started 1 for 10 from the field and trailed by as much as 14 points in the opening half. They fought back and cut the deficit to just seven points with 2:55 left in the half but never got closer.

"I was listening to some of the coaches in the NCAA tournament last night, and almost every one of them said the same thing I’m going to say,’ said UCA’s fourth-year head coach russ pennell. "It’s not even about losing the game, it’s the fact that you’ll never coach this team again. And I think that’s the thing that people don’t really see, to invest in two years of recruiting, and four years of coaching them.Double figures

"Some of these kids we met when they were 15-16 years old and now they’re 21-22 year old men. They are a part of your life and now they’ll be gone. Never forgotten, because obviously we’ll be in contact with them. But I think that’s the biggest thing that makes this bittersweet.’

The gamecocks (23-12), who advance to the CBI semifinals against an opponent to be determined, got 17 points each from malcolm drumwright and marlon hunter and had four players in double figures. JSU shot 51.6 percent fro the field in the first half and made 10 of 23 (43.5 percent) from three-point range on the night. Kamba was the only other UCA player in double figures, finishing with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots in his final game. He is a rare 1,500-point and 700-rebounder player, totaling 1,451 career points and 709 career rebounds at UCA.This season

The bears, leading the SLC in three-pointers made per game at 8.3, were just 5 of 22 from beyond the arc, including 2 of 13 (15.4 percent) in the first half when they trailed 42-30 at the break.

"We just didn’t play well, we came out kind of glassy-eyed, pennell said. "I thought we looked tired. And jacksonville state’s a really good team. That’s not a team you can have your ‘B’ game. You have to have your ‘A’ game when you play those fellows. Nonetheless, I’m proud of our guys and I thought they battled for the majority of the game.’

The bears won their first two postseason games in the division I era that began in 2006-07, beating lamar in the first round of the southland conference tournament before knocking off seattle last week in their fourth trip to the west coast this season.Double figures

"I think these last few games have been bonus games,’ said pennell, "so I don’t think there is this abruptness that we might have felt if we hadn’t gotten to play in postseason. I think we felt these last two games we were playing with house money. I think everyone is sad, but I don’t think it’s really set in yet. But I also think we’re extremely, extremely tired. And sometimes when you’re really tired, you’re almost too tired to cry. And I think that’s kind of where we’re at right now.’

The four players the bears will lose, including redshirt junior walk-on tyler simmons who is set to graduate, have laid the foundation for UCA’s future, according to pennell. The bears’ 18 victories is more than UCA won combined over the first three years of the pennell regime, which began in 2014-15 with a complete remake of the roster.First half lee, from camden, ark. Who is working his master’s degree, was the only player retained from the previous year’s team.

"I told our team that these three seniors, and tyler simmons, who was a big part of our practices for four years, these four guys have gone throught a lot,’ said pennell. "And they’ve also set the bar pretty high. And if we don’t capitalize on this season next year, by learning lessons of leadership, lessons of toughness, lessons of making plays from these seniors, then this season was for naught.