MONTICELLO --- Arkansas-Monticello’s K.J. Lesure connected on a less than ideal three-point attempt in the waning seconds of Thursday night's Great American Conference game against Southern Arkansas for a 67-64 win by the Boll Weevils.
The shot, which saw Lesure claim a loose ball along a crowded right wing and hoist a desperation turn-around attempt from range, allowed the Weevils to complete the second-half comeback as the Muleriders were unable to hold onto an 18-point lead at the intermission.
SAU led by as many as 21 points.
The loss drops SAU to 7-10 in league play (10-13 overall) and into a tie for ninth place in the GAC standings. Arkansas-Monticello is 17-9, 9-8 GAC.
The Muleriders' halftime lead, the largest for the team this season, came as a result of a 51.5 percent (17-of-33) shooting clip from the floor in the opening 20 minutes of play. SAU outscored the Weevils inside 22-14 and grabbed nine more rebounds during the frame. Southern Arkansas' nationally-prominent perimeter defense saw UAM make just two of their ten first half attempts from three-point range.
SAU sank five three-pointers in the first half which matches or eclipses the team's total output from range in 11 games this season. As a team, the Muleriders finished 7-of-19 (36.8%) from beyond-the-arc; the fourth highest output from three-point range this season.
The Muleriders collapse included 18 of their 25 turnovers in the second half resulting in 19 points for the Weevils. Southern Arkansas shot just 31.8 percent from the floor and UAM outscored SAU inside in the final 20 minutes 18-10. Arkansas-Monticello made four of eight three-point attempts in the second half as Lesure's final shot put the Muleriders away.
SAU sophomore Jalen Brooks delivered a game-high 24 points with four rebounds, three steals and a block. Junior Aaron Lucas flirted with a triple double as he dropped 16 points in a team-high 39 minutes, while adding seven rebounds, five assists and a steal. Freshman Dodge Brown, in his first career start, scored 10 points in a career-high 32 minutes. Junior Devante Brooks led all players with 15 rebounds; his fifth game this season with a dozen or more boards.
The Muleriders return to the hardwood on Saturday in Magnolia as they welcome Ouachita into the W.T. Watson Center for a 3 p.m. tip-off.