HAMMOND, La. — Nearly 39 minutes into Wednesday night’s game, Central Arkansas and Southeastern Louisiana were tied at 62 in a game in which the teams had spent most of the evening essentially trading baskets.
Then, in the final 77 seconds, it was Megan Herbert 7, Southeastern Louisiana 3.
Herbert scored on three possessions in the game’s decisive moments, twice converting layups while drawing a foul, to lift the Sugar Bears to a 69-65 win over the Lady Lions in Hammond.
"That’s a big-time win," UCA coach Matt Daniel said. "We haven’t won here since I’ve been the head coach. This is a hard place to come play. We didn’t play our best basketball, but it’s hard to get road wins in this league, and we’ll gladly take this one tonight."
With the game tied at 62 with 1:47 remaining after Southeastern’s Kelli Jenkins made the first of two free throws, Herbert took control. She scored inside as the shot clock was expiring and drew the foul, knocking down the free throw to give the Sugar Bears (12-7, 4-2 Southland) a three-point lead with 1:17 left.
The Lady Lions (9-7, 1-3 Southland) countered with a buzzer-beater of their own, getting a 3-pointer from Chelsea Hix just before the shot clock went off to tie the game at 65 with 47 seconds remaining.
With the shot clock again expiring on the Sugar Bears’ ensuing possession, Herbert took the ball at the top of the key and put it on the floor, driving to the basket for a layup and a free throw with 21 seconds to play. She missed the free throw, but Nakeia Guiden chased down the offensive rebound to preserve possession for UCA. The Sugar Bears worked the ball to Herbert, who was once again sent to the free throw line for two. After knocking both down to give UCA a 69-65 lead with 17 seconds, the Lady Lions could not get a shot to fall on the other end and time ran out to seal the win for the Sugar Bears.
"That’s what Meg does," Daniel said. "Those weren’t off of play calls — if we call plays for her they shift and she’s not as efficient that way. She just goes out and makes plays. She made those plays and several other kids had some big plays for us in critical moments. It was just a great team win."
Guiden led all scorers with a season-high 19, with 11 coming in the first half. Herbert had 18 and led all players with seven rebounds and four assists — a season high. Courtney Duever had 10 points and was one of three Sugar Bears with two steals along with Guiden and Micah Rice.
In the first half the two teams stayed within a few points of each other, with the Sugar Bears taking the biggest half of the lead after an 11-1 run had them ahead 30-22. That lasted all of 10 seconds as the Lady Lions came back with seven straight points, including five in a row from Chelsea Hix. Hix’s 3-pointer with 4:34 left would be the Lady Lions’ final field goal of the half, with Southeastern finishing with just four free throws over the final four minutes. The Sugar Bears closed with a jumper from Marci Moffitt and an easy basket inside from Courtney Duever with 13 seconds left to hold a 36-31 lead at the half.
Jessica Sommers had a season-high 13 to lead the Lady Lions, with Hix and Rachel Mackie adding 11 apiece.
UCA was 18 of 22 (81.8 percent) at the free throw line.
The Sugar Bears return home Saturday to take on East Division leader McNeese State, which is 6-0 and the lone remaining unbeaten in Southland play.