NEW ORLEANS -- The last loss was sealed by halftime.
Down by as much as 30 points during the second half, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock men's basketball team subbed players in and out of the game.
A three-pointer here. A rebound there.
Nobody was changing the Trojans' fate, which was solidified when Appalachian State closed the first half on a 14-1 run to lead 46-25.
UALR's season ended in a 93-64 loss to Appalachian State on Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Lakefront Arena, and its 25 losses are now the most in a single season in the program's 88-year history.
The Trojans (7-25) finished with their most losses since the 1999-2000 season (4-24). That team lost 74-58 to South Alabama in the first round of the Sun Belt Tournament, and Trojans then-first year coach Sidney Moncrief did not return the next season.
UALR second-year Coach Wes Flanigan said that "nobody's said anything about my future" yet, and that he expects to have a postseason evaluation with Athletic Director Chasse Conque "in the next couple of days or maybe next week."
Conque declined comment when he was approached by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette after the loss.
Appalachian State sophomore guard O'Showen Williams scored a game-high 22 points, and UALR freshman guard Jaizec Lottie led the Trojans with 13 points.
The problems that plagued UALR all season -- missed post shots, untimely turnovers and poor three-point defense -- buried them in a 10-point deficit within the opening four minutes of the game.
In the Trojans' first three possessions, freshman forward Kris Bankston missed a shot from the left block, Lottie lost the ball out of bounds while driving to the basket, and sophomore guard Ryan Pippins missed a three-pointer from the right wing.
Meanwhile, Appalachian State junior guard Ronshad Shabazz made a deep two over Lottie's outstretched hand, sophomore forward Isaac Johnson made an open three as UALR junior forward Oliver Black closed late, and senior forward Griffin Kinney connected on a post move layup to go up 7-0.
Flanigan called timeout with 18:07 left in the first half.
Two three-pointers by Appalachian State's Shabazz and Forrest pushed the lead to 15-6 -- a run that was briefly halted by an alley-oop dunk by Bankston.
UALR pulled within 15-10 while Appalachian State went 0-of-4 shooting. The Trojans did not get closer, as the team continued to struggle in the post and at the three-point line while making 7 of 13 free throws (53.8 percent).
Forrest made another three over Lottie to extend the lead to 21-10 with 11:41 left in the first half, then Johnson drew a foul on a post-move layup against Trojans 6-11 senior forward Wadly Mompremier. Johnson's free throw made it 24-10.
UALR assembled a 6-0 run in the middle of the half. The run ended when Trojans junior guard Anthony Black lost control of the basketball, which was stolen by Shabazz, who made his free throw after he was fouled on a breakaway layup.
The score was 28-18 with 6:36 left in the half.
Appalachian State continued to distance itself by taking advantage of UALR's inability to stop three-pointers. The Mountaineers finished the game 12 of 22 (55 percent) from three-point range, and the Trojans finished 4 of 18 (22 percent).
UALR finished the season last in the Sun Belt in six statistical categories: scoring offense (63.7 points per game), scoring margin (-5.6), free-throw percentage (61.3), three-point shooting percentage (32.4), three-pointers made (6.3 per game) and steals (4.9 per game). The Trojans also finished 11th in shooting percentage (42.9), 10th in assists (12.2 per game) and ninth in total rebounds (34 per game).
UALR's highest ranking was fourth in scoring defense (69.3 points allowed per game).
The Trojans lost junior guard Deondre Burns (7.0 points per game) to an MCL injury before the season, and Flanigan permanently suspended leading scorer and sophomore guard Andre Jones (12.3 points per game) on Feb. 5 "due to conduct detrimental to the program."
Burns is set to return next season, and Florida Gulf Coast transfer and junior guard Rayjon Tucker (6.9 points per game) will become eligible after sitting out the season due to NCAA transfer rules.
"I've got to get these guys better," Flanigan said. "Bottom line."
Appalachian State center Jake Wilson (right) blocks a shot by UALR guard Ben Marcus during the second half of Wednesday’s game at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
UALR forward Wadly Mompremier (middle) dunks the ball in front of Appalachian State forward Isaac Johnson (0) during the second half of the Trojans’ 93-64 loss to the Mountaineers on Wednesday at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in New Orleans. Mompremier finished with 12 points.
Sports on 03/08/2018
Print Headline: Loss for record book: Trojans’ 25th loss tops list for a single season