Second chances don’t come by often, but the UNO men’s basketball team was fortunate enough to have one coming into Monday night.
UNO had three consecutive disappointing Southland Conference losses at home last week, but it began another three-game stretch at home Monday and desperately wanted to make up for the way the previous three ended.
The Privateers put together a late-second-half surge to run away with a 94-83 win over Central Arkansas at Lakefront Arena, snapping their five-game losing streak.
“I think we’ve just been waiting to turn the corner, and hopefully this is the one that can do it for us,” UNO coach Mark Slessinger said. “It was really important to get off to a good start, score the ball offensively and get stops when we needed them. I think we were able to accomplish all those things, and that was a big difference for us tonight.”
Kevin Hill scored a career-high 23 points to lead six Privateers (6-12, 2-5) in double digits. Hill also hauled in 14 rebounds, which moved him past Butch Webster and tied him for ninth in school history with Mark Petteway with 620 rebounds.
“I thank God, because its a big accomplishment,” Hill said. “Just to hear my name mentioned among greats like Earvin Johnson, Melvin Simon, Wayne Cooper — it’s an honor. I’m blessed to be here, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Central Arkansas (3-14, 2-5) grabbed control by making seven of its first 10 shots to start the second half, opening its largest lead of the game at 62-54 with 14:24 left.
The Bears’ lead grew as large as 68-57, but the Privateers responded with a 17-2 run that ended with a layup by Tevin Broyles that gave UNO a 74-70 lead with a 6:12 left.
UCA tried to fight its way back, but the Privateers shot 58 percent in the second half and never allowed the Bears to get back into the game.
“Our guys just got together in the huddle and said enough is enough,” Slessinger said. “It was neat to see them hold each other accountable and really do a good responding to it.”