FORT SMITH, Ark. – UAFS men’s basketball coach Josh Newman walked out of the locker room soaked after being doused with water by his players. Admittedly a little surprised by the impromptu celebratory shower, the veteran Lions coach didn’t seem to mind too much.
The Lions, you see, had plenty to celebrate.
Five players scored in double-figures as the Lions finished their home stand with a convincing 104-60 win against the Oklahoma Panhandle State Aggies on Monday afternoon to give their head coach his 200th career coaching win.
Newman, who became head coach of the Lions in July of 2006, reached the milestone in his 11th season at UAFS. The Chino Valley, Ariz., native now owns a 200-114 career win-loss record – all as head coach of the Lions.
The former University of Nevada assistant coach helped usher the Lions through their transition from NJCAA to NCAA Division II. He guided the Lions to a 70-25 record during their final three seasons as members of NJCAA and has compiled a 130-89 record during eight seasons of NCAA Division II competition, which includes two seasons during which UAFS was a provisional member and ineligible for postseason competition.
“I’m a very fortunate head coach. I haven’t won one game by myself. Every one of my guys and my assistants have made an impact greater than I can ever thank them,” said Newman, who succeeded former Lions head coach and current Stephen F. Austin assistant coach Jeremy Cox. “It’s truly about the program more than me.”
If that wasn’t enough of a reason to celebrate, UAFS also won its third game in a row to remain tied for first in the conference after going 2-0 during the home stand, which began with a 98-84 win against the Newman Jets on New Year’s Eve.
UAFS (9-6, 3-1), Newman (5-8, 3-1) and St. Edward’s (10-6, 2-1) are tied for first place, and depending on the outcome of their late game on Monday, either Texas A&M International (7-2, 2-1) or Lubbock Christian (7-5, 1-1) will be in the mix as well.
UAFS will play Lubbock Christian at 8 p.m. on Thursday at the Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock, Texas, and will finish one of its busiest stretches of the season – four games in eight days – on Saturday when it plays the Dallas Baptist Patriots at 2 p.m. at The Burg Center in Dallas.
The Lions didn’t waste much time making sure their coach would earn his career milestone in front of the home crowd at the Stubblefield Center. UAFS, which never trailed in the game, jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and enjoyed a comfy 23-point lead (55-32) at halftime.
UAFS led by as many as 50 points with less than eight minutes left in the second half.
All 11 of the Lions who played scored at least two points as the Lions’ bench accounted for 62 of their 104 points. UAFS shot 49 percent from the field (41 of 83) – it was 6-of-23 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 73 percent from the free-throw line (16 of 22).
Sophomore guard Ognjen Vasiljevic scored a career-high 20 points to lead the Lions. Freshman guard Kyree Elder had 15 points, junior forward Dalton Glapion 14 and junior guard Ladarius Coleman and junior forward Brett Jolly 12 apiece.
UAFS out-rebounded Oklahoma Panhandle State by 35 rebounds (58-23), including 26 offensive rebounds that led to 33 second-chance points. Elder topped off his double-double with a career-high 13 rebounds.
The Lions forced 22 Aggies turnovers which led to 39 points. Senior guards Alex Cooper and Seth Youngblood each had three of the Lions’ 16 steals, and Glapion, Coleman and Thomas each blocked one shot.
Oklahoma Panhandle State (5-8, 0-4) shot just 40 percent from the field (22 of 55) – it was 7-of-26 shooting from 3-point range – and shot 75 percent from the free-throw line (9 of 12). Forward Jace Kerr was the only Aggie to score in double-figures, finishing with 15 points.
Center Tevin Lytes and guard Malcolm Glanville had four rebounds apiece to lead the Aggies, who lost their sixth game in a row.
By Jonathan Gipson