University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bear coach Matt Daniel decided to tweak his lineup to an eight-player rotation.
The strategy hit an immediate snag Monday when one of the starters, Sidney Stewart, committed two fouls within 18 seconds and left the game.
But the Sugar Bears found a spark early with the inside work of Megan Herbert and outside from Desiree Rogers in producing a quick 14-2 run that held up though an up-and-down second half for a 69-60 victory over Lipscomb at the Farris Center.
Courtney Duever, a freshman post player, came off the bench to help keep the Lady Bisons at bay while Stewart found her shooting touch at the right time in the second half after Lipscomb at tied the game at 53.
"This game was not gonna make or break us, but we got in a little bit of a groove," said UCA coach Matt Daniel, whose team moved to 3-4. "If we were 6-0, I would have thought we would be peaking too early. We’re building something and I’m happy with where we are now."
The Sugar Bears built a 16-5 lead in the first five minutes, then kept an eight- to 13-point margin of the first half. A follow shot by Micah Rice at the buzzer gave the Sugar Bears a 40-27 lead at the half.
The Lady Bisons came out aggressively the second half and the Sugar Bears got sloppy, forcing a fight to the finish.
"Our intensity was the key," Daniel said. "When we were not intense, they made their run. It’s like we came out the second half 10 minutes later than they did."
The Lady Bisons tied the score twice — at 51 at 5:47 and at 53 at 5:01.
Then Stewart hit her only 3-pointers of the game back-to-back, sandwich a transition basket by Hannah Phillips to give UCA a 59-55 lead with 3:00 left. Two free throws by Destinee Rogers and a transition basket by Duever off an assist by Stewart pushed the UCA lead to eight.
Duever’s two free throws with 25.4 seconds left gave the Sugar Bears their final cushion.
Herbert led the Sugar Bears with another double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds. Duever came off the bench to hit five of eight shots and provide a boost in the final minutes of each half on the way to 13 points. Rice and Stewart added eight each.
"Courtney’s effort has been consistent," Daniel said.
Anna Bowers, the Lady Bisons’ leading scorer, had 19 pointsk, two above her average. UCA shot 40.7 percent to Lipscomb’s 36.5 percent had a 34-22 advantage in poins in the paint and a 21-12 edge in bench points.
The Sugar Bears have a week off before hosting Central Baptist College on Monday night.