KINGS AND QUEENS
Sun Belt Player of the Year Solomon Bozeman’s three point basket with 1.5 seconds left capped a furious Arkansas-Little Rock rally in the final two minutes as the Trojans defeated North Texas 64-63 to win the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship in Hot Springs, AR.
Trailing 60-53 with under two minutes to go, UALR got two free throws and then hit two more free throws after a Mean Green turnover. Following a North Texas miss, the Trojans converted two more free throws to get within one point at 60-59.
UNT’s Josh White buried an NBA three pointer to give UNT a four point lead with 23.2 remaining, but UALR’s Matt Mouzy answered seconds later to make it 62-61. Another UALR steal led to a Mouzy miss from three and UNT rebounded. Tristan Thompson was fouled and made 1-2 ffree throws with :07 left to set the talbe for Bozeman’s heroics.
The Sun Belt title is the first for UALR, who was the Western Divison’s fifth seed. They will be making their first NCAA appearance since 1990 when they were a member of the Trans-America (now Atlantic Sun) Conference. That year, UALR was eliminated in the first round by eventual NCAA Champion UNLV.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Mean Green. The Pre-season favorites to win the championship, North Texas struggled through the second half of the season, but swept through double-digit wins over Troy, regular season champion Florida Atlantic and Western Kentucky to reach the championship game.
Earlier in the day, Chastity Reed scored 22 points to lead UALR over a game Western Kentucky squad 66-59 to earn the Trojans their first Tournament Championship. Reed, the SBC Player of the Year, was voted the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Shanika Butler and marian Kursh added 14 points for UALR.
The game was tight throughout with neither team leading by more than six points. UALR had a three point lead in the final minute, but the Lady Toppers misfired on a three pointer with 11 seconds left that would have tied the score.
UALR will make its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. They were an at-large team a year ago and advanced to the second round.