ARLINGTON, Texas – Lonnie McClanahan hit a driving right-handed layup with 14.1 seconds left to lift UT Arlington to a 62-61 men’s basketball victory over Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt Conference opener for both teams Tuesday night in College Park Center.
Eric Ferguson, who finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds, gave the Eagles their first lead of the game, skying high for a tip-in with 28.1 seconds left. After a timeout, McClanahan got a flat ball screen at the top of the key, drove right and hit a running layup.
Jelani Hewitt brought the ball down the floor for the Eagles, and was set to try a step-back jumper but with hands in his face, elected to pass Trent Wiedeman, whose jumper from the free-throw line rimmed out. The ball was tipped around on the rebound as time ran out.
“I considered a timeout, but I was concerned they would take the ball out of Jelani’s hands, and I liked the ball in Jelani’s hands,” said Georgia Southern coach Mark Byington. “Trent got a good look, and it just didn’t go down. We had a few that looked like they were halfway down and popped out on us at the end of the game.”
The 16 boards were a career-high for Ferguson, who had eight on the offensive end and eight on the defensive glass. Wiedeman finished with 13 points, and six rebounds, and Mike Hughes scored nine for the Eagles (7-3, 0-1). Curtis Diamond and Angel Matias each scored eight with Diamond hitting a huge 3-pointer from the corner that drew the Eagles to within one point with 1:23 remaining.
“Eric was tremendous right from the start,” said Byington. “He had his legs under him tonight. Everybody knows how talented he is, and he showed it tonight.”
McClanahan had seven points for UT Arlington (7-4, 1-0), while Jamel Outler and Johnny Hill each scored 11.
Hewitt entered the game ranked second nationally with 23.0 points per game, but was held to his lowest output of the season, scoring just six points. His four free throws extended his streak of consecutive free throws to 18-straight.
Georgia Southern clamped down on the defensive end in the second half, holding the Mavericks to 32 percent from the floor as the Eagles chipped away at a 13-point halftime deficit.
The Eagles played their Sun Belt Conference home opener Saturday against Texas State in Hanner Fieldhouse. Results were not available at press time.