It wasn't a must win game for UA-Fort Smith but it was pretty close for the Lions if they wanted a shot at the Heartland Conference championship.
UAFS overcame a late deficit to knock off Texas A&M-International 66-63 at the Stubblefield Center. The Lions are now just a game back of the Dustdevils in the conference standings.
"It just shows toughness," UAFS coach Josh Newman said. "This is something we've been preaching from day one. You've got to make tough plays to win the game and I asked the guys at halftime and I asked the guys before the game, what's it going to take. What do you have in you to help us win this game and your right, that last four minutes they show us and everybody here that they had enough to win the game."
UAFS (16-4, 9-3) trailed 39-38 at the half but saw that deficit quickly grow in the opening minutes of the second half. The Lions then started to claw back into the game but was hampered by poor free throw shooting.
Miha Glavas put UAFS back in front after back-to-back baskets, the second coming with 2:54 remaining as the Lions took a 63-62 lead.
TAMI and UAFS struggled from the charity stripe late but it was UAFS who led 66-63 with 19 seconds left.
The Dustdevils got two looks at a potential game tying shot but attempts by Deonnte Breedlove and Kevin Jefferson Jr. bounced off the rim as the Lions escaped with the win.