UA-Fort Smith may have ended their regular season with a dramatic overtime win on Thursday but the Lions won the Heartland Conference title on Saturday.
The Lions needed a St. Mary’s win against Texas A&M-International to win the conference outright and that is exactly what they got. St. Mary’s outlasted the Dustdevils 74-65 in double overtime.
UAFS (21-5, 14-4) will host the Heartland Conference Tournament for the second straight season. The tournament tips off Friday at the Stubblefield Center.
“I’m extremely excited for our guys and our community,” UAFS coach Josh Newman said. “Winning the league two years in a row and hosting the conference tournament is the reward for all the hard work and sacrifices our team has made since August.”
UAFS will face the No. 4 seed Texas-Permian Basin (16-10, 10-8) in the opening round of the conference tournament. TAMIU (20-8, 13-5) will face St. Mary’s (19-7, 12-6) in the other semifinal. The Lions took down UTPB, 83-80, in the only regular season meeting.
The Lions have won the regular season title in back-to-back seasons. UAFS is currently ranked No. 5 in the regional ranks, with the top eight from the eight regions qualifying for the NCAA division-II tournament.
“I know the guys will be excited to continue playing in front of our home crowd,” said Newman, whose Lions were 14-0 at home during the regular season.