The University of Central Arkansas Bears had a monumental night at the Farris Center on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in Huntsville, Texas, the Sugar Bears continued their dominance over Sam Houston State.
The Bears (15-15, 9-8) clinched the seventh seed in next week's Southland Conference tournament with a solid, 88-70 victory over third-place Sam Houston State at the Farris Center.
They shot 62.5 percent the second half in outscoring the Bearkats, 52-37.
Senior guard Jordan Howard broke another record, becoming the all-time NCAA Division I career scoring leader in Arkansas history, finishing with a game-high 28 points to surpass Arkansas’ Todd Day. Fellow senior Mathieu Kamba scored 14 of his 24 points in the decisive second half, going 10 of 14 from the field and adding three assists and two steals.
“The second half was maybe one of the best halves we’ve had of the year," said UCA head coach Russ Pennell, “and it couldn’t come at a better time. We just tried to use more of the court in the second half and guys made shots, which is always a key when you’re doing that.
“We played a complete team game and it started on the defensive end,’ said Howard, who scored in double figures for the 115th time in his 119 career games. “That’s something we’ve been preaching in practice and coach has been preaching. And that really led to our offense in transition and that got us going in the second half.
“When we get it rolling, we’re a dangerous team. When we’re hitting on all cylinders…"
Howard broke the record with a 3-pointer with 2:32 left in the first half, one of his four for the game. He also owns the state’s D-I career three-point record with 374 (over the Razorbacks' Pat Bradley), and tied his own school record for single-season 3-pointers with 101 this season.
“That’s a phenomenal accomplishment,’ said Pennell. “Seems like every time we play a game, he breaks some sort of record. He’s just having a magical career.
"And the kid is so humble... he just plays the game the right way. Great teammate... couldn’t happen to a better guy. I certainly understand how great Todd Day was. So to be mentioned in that sentence is pretty impressive."
Freshman center Hayden Koval missed the first SHSU game with a sprained ankle but came up big Wednesday, despite battling early foul trouble. He finished with six points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. UCA also got 13 points — 3 of 6 from 3-point range — from junior guard Thatch Unruh.
The Bears will celebrate Senior Day for Howard, Kamba and graduate Ethan Lee when they host Northwestern State at 5 p.m. at the Farris Center.
In Huntsville, Texas, the Sugar Bears struggled out of the gate, then took control over the final three quarters for a 73-53 victory over the Bearkats at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
The win – the Sugar Bears’ 10th straight over the Bearkats (4-22, 1-16) – gives Central Arkansas (20-8, 13-4) its third consecutive 20-win season and sixth in the past nine seasons, the most among Southland Conference programs.
Taylor Baudoin led the Sugar Bears with 26 points and eight rebounds, her eighth 20-point game of the season and fourth in her last five games. It brings her career total to 1,109 – moving her into the Central Arkansas career Top 20.
In her return to Johnson Coliseum, Kamry Orr – who played her freshman season at SHSU – had 20 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals.
Of the Sugar Bears’ 20 wins this season, 15 have been by double digits and 10 by at least 20, with an average margin of victory of 21.9
"It wasn’t pretty basketball, but we won," said coach Sandra Rushing. "I don’t know what it’s going to take for us to come out of the gates better – this team is very, very capable.
“I’m still trying to figure this team out … they really make me mad at times – I told them on the bench they’re going to give me a heart attack. But they want to win. I’m just glad this ballgame is over.”