EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The Central Arkansas Sugar Bears rallied in the second half Thursday to down SIU-Edwardsville 64-59 for its ninth win in 10 games.
The Sugar Bears remain perfect on New Year’s Eve. UCA is now 5-0 on Dec. 31 all time, having won two years in a row after defeating Texas-Pan American last year.
Poor shooting in the first half had the Sugar Bears (9-3) down 28-21 at the break, with UCA hitting just 24 percent from the field, 10 percent on 3-pointers and 60 percent from the free-throw line.
Then the UCA women caught fire.
After a scoreless first half, freshman forward Westin Taylor hit five
3-pointers in the second and the Sugar Bears shot 50 percent from beyond the arc and 55.6 percent from the field to outscore SIUE (2-12) 43-31 and battle back for their third comeback victory in four games.
“The only thing that changed from the first half to the second was
attitude and effort,” UCA head coach Matt Daniel said. “Those two things are not options in our program, and in the second half our attitude and effort changed and that’s what turned the game around. I’m pleased with the outcome, but not pleased overall. We’ve still got a lot of growing up to do on and off the floor.”
Down five with nine minutes to go, UCA went on a 9-1 run to take its
first lead since eight minutes left in the first half. Taylor connected
from outside and Megan Herbert, who finished with game highs of 21
points and 18 rebounds, scored inside to pull the Sugar Bears into a tie at 48 with 7:41 to go. Herbert then scored four more points after a free throw from SIUE’s Raven Berry to put UCA ahead three with 5:20 to play.
After another bucket from Berry, Taylor knocked down another 3 to put the UCA lead at four. Melia Duncan answered with one of her own, but Taylor came right back and drained another to give UCA a 58-54 lead with
2:29 to play.
Berry got it to two with 1:32 left, but a layup from Britney Gowans then a steal plus two free throws by Nakeia Guiden gave UCA a six-point advantage with under a minute, its biggest lead.
Duncan hit another 3 with 12 seconds left to cut the deficit in half,
but Gowans knocked down two free throws a second later to put the game away.
Herbert’s 21 and 18 extended her UCA record double-double streak to 12 games, tying her for the 13th longest streak in Division I history.
The Sugar Bears will close out the non-conference portion of their
season on Tuesday when they host Houston Baptist at 5:30 p.m.
(UCA assistant sports information director Josh Goff contributed to this report)