FAYETTEVILLE — Whether at the old Bulldog Gymnasium or the still-new Bulldog Arena, it has never been easy for Van Buren to win at Fayetteville.
For only the fifth time in the Randy Loyd era, the Pointers get a road win against the Bulldogs, a 60-55 7A/6A-West victory Monday.
“When you are on the road in the 7A-West, you will take every win if it is by one or 20,” Loyd said. “I was concerned after not winning (Friday against Bentonville). We made some plays and we got rolling.”
The game was moved to Monday to avoid a conflict with the Arkansas-Kentucky SEC game today at Bud Walton Arena.
Guards Jason Harms and Ryan Pearson combined for 39 points to lead the Pointers’ charge. Van Buren shot a blistering 75 percent (18-of-24) from the field and 8-of-11 from the 3-point line.
“We knew we had to shoot it like that with (6-foot-9 center) Mitchell Smith getting in foul trouble,” Pointers coach Randy Loyd said. “Our guards stepped up and made plays .
Despite the hot shooting, Van Buren (11-2, 1-1) still had to hold off Fayetteville (8-7, 1-1) thanks to a 30-point performance from sophomore Payton Willis. He scored 17 of that in the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs rallied from a 13-point second half deficit to three.
“We saw film on him and we knew he was a good player,” Loyd said. “We didn’t realize he could shoot the 3-pointer like he did tonight. Give that kid credit for being a sophomore and stepping up tonight. He kept them in the game.”
Van Buren shot a sizzling 79 percent in the first half (11-of-14), including 5-of-6 from the 3-point line, to build a comfortable 30-20 halftime lead. The lead was built without Smith, who was saddled with two first-quarter fouls.
“We gave them a lot of uncontested shots in the first half and that got their motor running and made it a little easier for them,” Fayetteville coach Kyle Adams said. “He has some tremendous shooters. We guarded them better in the second half, but they kept knocking down shots.”
Willis hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get Fayetteville to within three at 44-41 with 7:21 left. But a three-point play by Harms and four points from Pearson gave Van Buren a 51-42 cushion with four minutes left in the game. Fayetteville stayed close, but could never get the score back to a one-possession game in the final minutes.
“They hit big shots in the second half. That is what good teams do,” Adams said. “(Pearson) is such a good guard. He can score, but then he can break you down and get the ball to other guys who can shoot.
Fayetteville 53, Van Buren 27 (Women’s)
The Lady Bulldogs (9-4, 2-0) used an 14-3 run in the last four minutes of the second quarter to pull away from the Lady Pointers (5-8, 0-2).
Van Buren trailed 11-6 after one quarter, but a Halie Jennen basket followed by a Kaylee Sheppard 3-pointer tied the game at 11 with 5:25 left in the first half.
From that point on, though, the game belonged to Fayetteville. Sydney Crockett scored the last five points to pace the run, including a 3-pointer with one second left, that gave the Lady Bulldogs a 25-14 halftime lead, its first double-digit advantage of the game.
Fayetteville put the game away in the third quarter, ending with a 10-2 run, to open up a commanding 39-21 lead.
Crockett led all scorers with 11 points while Danae Goodwin paced Van Buren with 9.
Van Buren will host Springdale Har-Ber on Friday.