The Coach Clarence Finley era dawned with a rousing 109-59 victory over cross-town Hendrix College on Tuesday night before a crowd of 1,527 at the Farris Center.
Playing their first game under the direction of their interim coach, the Bears shot 49.4 percent from the field _ 45.8 percent from three-point range _ and forced the Division III Warriors into 26 turnovers and easily topped the 100-point mark in their debut.
Freshman forward Jalen Jackson of West Memphis topped the Bears with 22 points, hitting 9 of 12 from the field and 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard David Berete added 14 points as the Bears placed five players in double figures.
Junior guard Lenell Brown made three three-pointers and added 13 points, while freshman forward Phabian Glasco scored 12 points and junior guard Aubrey Ball added 10.
"It was nice to start with a win,' said Finley, who was associate head coach under Corliss Williamson for the past three years. "We know it's going to get tougher from here, from a competition standpoint, but it was nice to come out and win our first one.'
The Bears jumped out to a 57-25 halftime lead, forcing 15 turnovers and scoring 21 points off them. Jackson had 16 of his points and all three of this three-pointers in the first 20 minutes. UCA played 12 players in the first half, with nine of them scoring.
"We've been getting up a lot of game shots in practice,' said Finley. "And tonight we had a lot of open looks and we knocked them down. I thought we could have finished around the basket with our big people a little better. We're going to have to go back and work harder on that.
The Bears pushed their lead to as much as 52 points midway through the second half with 12 of their 13 players finding the scoring column. UCA finished with just eight turnovers and recorded 19 steals.
"We have speed and we apply a lot of ball pressure,' said Finley, who is known to preach defense first. "We're always going to hang our hat on defense. We have to put pressure on the other team and make them make mistakes. We had 26 turnovers and we probably could have had a lot more, but we took the press off early.'
UCA hits the road Friday for a matchup with SIU-Edwardsville in Edwardsville, Ill. The Bears are back home on Wednesday to face Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. at the Farris Center.