By DAVID MCCOLLUM
LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER
On "Blackout Night" at the Farris Center on Thursday, the University of Central Arkansas sank into a black hole.
The Sugar Bears, who had a 22-game home court winning streak end last week, lost for the second time in three games on their home court. This time, the culprits were Southeastern Louisiana’s Lady Lions, who came into the game with a 1-7 Southland Conference record and came away with a 70-64 victory, one of the most stinging home court defeats by the UCA women in recent history.
Afterward, after a spirited postgame address to her team, Sugar Bear coach Sandra Rushing invited reporters into the team room and waved them to the front of the room with the players seated in front of them.
"Ask questions," said Rushing. "And I want them to answer and tell you why this happened."
The Sugar Bears (13-7, 6-3), who entered the game in sole possession of second place in the Southland Conference, committed 21 turnovers and were outscored in points off turnovers, 24-12. They were outscored in bench points, 18-2.
Megan Herbert (32 points, six rebounds) and Courtney Duever (21 points, 10 rebounds) combined for 53 of the 64 points. Of the eight UCA players who played, none scored more than four. Those eight players combined for five-of-23 shooting from the field. UCA was one of 10 from 3-point range.
The Lady Lions, who lost by 16 earlier in the season at Hammond, severed the UCA defense with drives and pullups by guard Elizabeth Styles and inside and putback baskets by 5-foot-11 senior forward Brandi Simmons. In a game that had 17 ties and nine lead changes, the Lady Lions took the lead for good on a driving basket in the lane by Cierra Morris and iced the game in the final seconds with free throws. Southeastern had four players in double figures.
"This was unacceptable," said Rushing in front of the team. "There was a lack of effort and a lack of focus. If this doesn’t bother people, we do have some issues."
A reporter asked what happened. There were several seconds of silence before Herbert spoke.
"We didn’t come out and play hard and we weren’t focused," Herbert said. "We took a 1-7 team for granted. We’re still learning from our mistakes. We’re not there yet, but we’ll get there."
"We have the players to do it," said Duever. "We have all the talent to do it. We have to come out focused and know the game plan and remember to follow the game plan. And remember how crappy we feel right now."
"We have to fight for each other and hold each other accountable," said Tracey Parsons.
"Focus and their defense," said Desiree Rogers.
Rushing was not happy about the pace.
"They (the Lady Lions) did a great job game-planning for us and so does everybody else," Rushing said. "They want us to play too fast. We need to know when to slow down and take it out."
The Sugar Bears host Nicholls State at 2 p.m. Saturday to complete a four-game homestand.
"As a program, we have not accepted fully the change," said Rushing, who is in her first year as Sugar Bear coach. "Change is hard. But you can’t sometimes accept change and sometimes not."
(David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or email@example.com)