The University of Arkansas at Monticello men’s basketball team claimed its first Great American Conference Tournament title in the closing seconds of thrilling contest against SAU Sunday at Steelman Field House.
Dajuan Jones delivered the title for the Weevils after driving through the lane for a layup to put UAM up 75-74 with 3.5 seconds remaining.
In its third trip to the GAC finals in five season, UAM cut down the nets and hoisted the trophy for the first time as a member of the league.
The game started rocky for the Weevils (16-4, 12-4 GAC) falling behind 9-2 just after the first media timeout at 15:03 to play. UAM managed to regroup on the sideline to cut the deficit to two, but SAU (15-5, 12-4 GAC) put together another run pushing its lead to 22-11 with under eight remaining.
The Weevils took their first lead 25-24 on a three-pointer from Kendal Frey with 3:30 to go in the first half. The two teams traded buckets down the stretch of the half, but it was UAM on top at the break 30-29.
The first four minutes of the second half saw three ties until UAM built its largest lead of the contest with a 5-0 run with just under 16 minutes remaining.
After another several minutes of back-and-forth action, the Weevils found themselves trailing again with under eight minutes to play 61-56. UAM bounced back to knot the score at 63 when Miles Daniels was fouled on a three-pointer and knocked down all three at the charity stripe.
Keyon Craddock drained a big shot from downtown with 4:03 remaining to put the Weevils up 69-65. UAM couldn’t hold off the Muleriders as SAU battled right back to hold a three point lead with 18 seconds left in the contest.
The Weevils took advantage of missed free throws in the closing seconds as Jones drove right down the lane for a layup cut the deficit to one with 11 seconds left after SAU went 1-for-2 at the free throw line.
Moments later the Muleriders missed both attempts at the charity stripe. After grabbing the rebound Daniels made a quick outlet pass to Jones who raced all the way down the floor for a clutch layup to put the Weevils on top 75-74 with only 3.5 seconds remaining.
UAM forced an SAU miss at the buzzer to secure the 75-74 victory and claim the program’s first GAC Tournament title.
Daniels and Denzel McDuffey earned All-GAC Tournament honors as well as Jones who also was voted the GAC Tournament MVP.
Jones led the Weevils in the title game with 22 points to go along with seven assists and three steals.
Kendal Frey and McDuffey also finished with double-digits tallying 17 and 13 points, respectively.
The Weevils travel to Lubbock, Texas for the South Central Region of the NCAA Division II tournament.