After tough home losses Saturday to Sam Houston State, both Central Arkansas teams return to the floor for a potentially more difficult matchup.
Both UCA teams face preseason Southland Conference favorite Stephen F. Austin with the Sugar Bears hosting SFA, while the Bears hit the road to Nacogdoches, Texas.
Both UCA teams will have to play against SFA without integral members of their teams as redshirt freshman guard Jalisa Outlaw went down with a season-ending injury against McNeese State on Jan. 2 and senior guard DeAndre Jones went down with a season-ending injury early in UCA’s 83-79 win over New Orleans on Jan. 6.
With Outlaw finished for the season, the Sugar Bears will miss their top scorer and top 3-pointer shooter.
Outlaw averaged 13.2 points per game prior to her injury, while also hitting 17 of 54 shots from beyond the arc.
For the men, Jones’ injury means losing the program’s all-time assist leader and it’s primary ball handler.
In the Sugar Bears previous contest, it fought hard against Sam Houston State, but fell 67-60 Saturday at the Farris Center.
After the game, coach Sandra Rushing desperately cried out for one of her players to make a 3-point shot.
In the game, UCA shot six times from 3-point land, missing all six with four of its attempts coming in the final quarter.
Aside from Outlaw’s attempts, the Sugar Bears are 15 of 79 from beyond the arc this season, with its most efficient shooter from 3 being sophomore guard Charlay Conway, who has made 4 of 7, but she has averaged 5.4 minutes this season.
The Sugar Bears were also without junior forward Lucy Ibeh after suffering a concussion against McNeese on Jan. 2.
UCA hopes to have her back as she is the team’s next highest scorer behind Outlaw with 8.8 points per game, while also leading the team in rebounds per game with 5.9, as well as steals with 18.
Senior guards Tori Lasker leads the team in assists with 23, while senior forward Hannah Langhi and freshman forward Jayla Cody tie for the team-lead in blocks.
Meanwhile, SFA sits with a 10-2 record to go along with two conference wins over New Orleans and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
SFA beat Auburn 75-54 on Dec. 16 as a highlight win on its nonconference schedule.
SFA landed juniors Aiyana Johnson and Stephanie Visscher on the preseason all-conference first team, while sophomore guard Zya Nugent was named a second teamer.
Nugent is the team-leader in points per game with 13.8, while freshman forward Avery Brittingham leads the team in rebounding at 6.7 per game.
Visscher leads the team in assists with 38 as well as steals with 30, while Johnson leads the team in blocks with 21.
The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip at the Farris Center with the game available to listen to online at ucasports.com.
On Wednesday, the Southland Conference announced the Sugar Bears and New Orleans game that was postponed Jan. 6 was rescheduled for Feb. 3.
As for the men, SFA has dominated the conference over the last decade, making multiple NCAA Tournaments, but the Lumberjacks haven’t been able to get on the floor as much this season as they probably would like.
At this point in time, SFA has lost out on eight games and has only played seven.
It’s most recent postponement came when it couldn’t play against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
However, the Lumberjacks did get to play a nonconference game against Midwestern State, which SFA won 87-71.
It was just the second game the Lumberjacks have played since Dec. 12 as a bulk of its cancelations came after that span with five games being canceled or postponed.
Thus far, SFA has played just one conference game – a 78-67 win over New Orleans at home.
Senior forward Gavin Kensmil was named a first-team All-SLC preseason selection with senior guard Roti Ware selected for the second team.
Senior guard Cameron Johnson leads the team in points per game with 17.9 points per game, while sophomore forward Calvin Solomon leads the team in rebounds per game with 5.9.
Senior guard David Kachelries leads the team in assists with 19, while Johnson leads the team in steals with 16 and Johnson leads the team in blocks with six.
For UCA, coach Anthony Boone said that not having Jones on the floor hurt the team as senior guard and first-team All-SLC preseason selection Rylan Bergersen had to do too much on the floor in the Bears’ 91-80 loss to SHSU on Saturday.
Bergersen has been something of a Swiss Army Knife as he leads the team in points per game with 17.1 and now the team assist leader with 40 as well as the steal leader with 16.
Senior forward Jared Chatham leads the team in rebounds per game with 5.5, while freshman center Churchill Bounds leads the team in blocks with six.
The game is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. tip in Nacogdoches, Texas, with the game being broadcast on 91.3 FM The Bear.