Kearney, Neb. – Senior Ladarius Coleman scored 23 points and nationally-ranked Arkansas-Ft. Smith got 29 bench points to rally past Nebraska-Kearney, 86-75, Friday evening in the Hampton Inn Thanksgiving Classic.
The Lions, from the Heartland Conference, improve to 5-0 while the Lopers fall to 2-5. UNK remains in Fort Smith to face Southeastern Oklahoma State (2-3) on Saturday afternoon.
The Lopers got off to a terrific start, leading UAFS by margins of 15-5, 22-11, and 29-18. However, the Lions slowly chipped away and led 40-38 at the break. A three-point play by Coleman, a 6-5 transfer from Division I Southeast Missouri State, made it 35-32 and then he gave his team a six-point lead with a layup at the 53 second mark.
Making just nine of its 23 second half shots (39 percent), UNK held a brief 42-20 lead early in the second half but never led again. Six straight UAFS free throws made it 63-55 with 7:10 to play and the deficit only grew from there.
Shooting 56 percent (14 of 25) on the second half, the Lions had four score in double figures. Coleman reached his total by going 7 of 7 at the line and 8 of 12 from the field with fellow starters Darrion Strong-Moore tallying 19 points on 6 of 6 free throw shooting. He also made 6 of 13 shots and added three assists and five boards in 35 minutes.
Next, reserve Adam Rivera also was perfect at the line (4-4) to score 12 points in 12 minutes with fellow reserve Chris Crawford at 13 points thanks to two made triples.
UNK got 25 points from senior guard Yashua Trent. The Chicago native made 9 of 16 shots (4 of 7 threes) over 37 minutes. The triple total is a new career-high with the point total off his career-best effort.
Also, seniors Trey Lansman (Harlan, Ia.) and Lane Rohrich (Pierce) each scored 17 as they both knocked down two threes. Lansman had a team-best seven boards (all defensive) as well.
Finally for Kearney, reserve Carter Burns (Ankeny, Ia.) had six rebounds and five points in just 14 minutes.