THIBODAUX, La. — Sandra Rushing scored the 500th win of her career on Saturday as Central Arkansas defeated Nicholls 61-52 at Stopher Gym for the Sugar Bears’ 10th consecutive victory – keeping them atop the Southland Conference standings.
And – as Rushing’s teams have done for more than a quarter century – they did it largely with their defense.
The Sugar Bears (19-4, 11-2 Southland) held Nicholls to just eight points on 4-of-13 shooting (30.8 percent) in the final quarter, outscoring the Colonels, 17-8, to hang on for the come-from-behind victory and keep the Southland’s longest streak intact. By winning their 10th consecutive, the Sugar Bears now have their longest winning streak under Rushing and longest since 2012, and are two wins away from putting together the longest streak in the program’s Division I era.
By keeping Nicholls to 52, the Sugar Bears improve upon their scoring average allowed – 53.5 points per game coming into Saturday, ranking sixth in the nation.
Tied at 44 entering the fourth, the teams remained knotted up at 48 with less than 3:30 to play before the Sugar Bears were able to create some separation from the Colonels (8-16, 5-8). Kierra Jordan put Central Arkansas ahead to stay with 3:17 left on a bucket right at the rim.
After the teams swapped misses, the Colonels’ Tykeria Williams committed a foul on a Nicholls inbound play to turn the ball over to the Sugar Bears with 2:29 left. Taylor Sells tracked down a missed shot from Taylor Baudoin to extend possession for the Sugar Bears, and Sells eventually drove to the basket for a layup with 1:33 to go – putting Central Arkansas up four.
After another Williams turnover for the Colonels, the Sugar Bears went to the line six times over the final 1:02 – making 9 of 12 down the stretch, led by 8 of 10 from Baudoin, to extend the lead and thwart the Colonels’ upset bid.
Baudoin led Central Arkansas with 18 points and had 7 rebounds, while Jordan had 14 points and a team-high 9 rebounds in 23 minutes. Proffitt had 15 points, including 3-of-9 from 3-point range, and Brianna Mullins had 6 points and 7 rebounds. Sells had 4 points and 3 rebounds and led the team with 4 assists and has averaged 4.8 over her last four games.
The win also pulls the Sugar Bears within one of having their fifth 20-win season in the last eight – which would also be Rushing’s 10th in her last 15 seasons, where she is 351-107 (.766) – an average of nearly 24 wins per season, with five regular-season games still to play.
The Sugar Bears will get their first shot at No. 20 on Wednesday when they are back in action in the Farris Center against one-win Sam Houston State .