The University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears will try to snap a three-game losing streak and move into the semifinals of the Southland Conference Women’s Tournament on Friday in Katy, Texas.
The Sugar Bears (18-10), who led the conference for most of the regular season but fell to the third seed for the tournament, will take on seventh-seeded McNeese State, which came from behind to defeat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 78-73, in Thursday’s first round. The game will be at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
The Sugar Bears won the only meeting against the Cowgirls, 65-50, this season in Lake Charles, La.
In that game, Maggie Proffitt scored 17 points for the UCA women. SLC Player of the Year Courtney Duever added 15, and Freshman of the Year Brianna Mullins had 10.
The UCA women are making their fourth-straight appearance in the SLC tournament, which awards an automatic berth into the NCAA Women’s Tournament to the champion.
In Thursday’s first round, Allison Baggett’s block of Brittany Mbamalu’s potential game-tying 3-pointer helped seal the Cowgirls’ hard-fought 78-73 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The block eventually led to Baggett, the youngest of the Baggett sisters who have starred for the Cowgirls in recent years and who scored 27 points, shooting the game-clinching free throws for McNeese, which rallied from a 57-49 deficit at the 14:25 mark of the second half.
Despite being outrebounded by a 41-26 margin, the Cowgirls were able to hit the glass at the game’s most critical moments, including a 7:18 stretch in the second half in which McNeese limited Corpus Christi (18-12) to just one field goal.
McNeese forced 16 turnovers, which led to 20 points for the Cowgirls.
"We are looking forward to having a rematch with them (the Sugar Bears)," said McNeese coach Brooks Donald Williams.
"They really challenged us at our place. So we are certainly going to study that. It is very fitting for us to be competing against Central Arkansas with our history."
The winner of Friday’s game will face Stephen F. Austin, which defeated the Sugar Bears on Saturday, at 2:30 p.m. in Saturday’s semifinals.
Finals are Sunday.