UCA Advance photo

University of Central Arkansas junior center Hayden Koval puts up a shot at the basket in the Bears’ 74-67 loss to the Lamar Cardinals on Wednesday in Beaumont, Texas. Koval led the Bears with 14 points and seven rebounds in the loss.

Now that Southland Conference action is now in its second half, Central Arkansas’ opponents are now going to look familiar.

After both teams faced the Lamar Cardinals for the first and only time during regular season play, the Bears and Sugar Bears now turn their attention to McNeese State.

The Bears (7-16, 6-6 SLC) and Cowboys (12-11, 7-5 SLC) matched up in Conway on Jan. 4, which UCA won 79-69.

The Bears had four players reach double figures with junior guard DeAndre Jones leading all scorers with 26 points.

He was followed by freshman guard/forward Jaxson Baker, junior forward Jared Chatham and senior forward Aaron Weidenaar, who all scored 11 points.

UCA was on fire from the 3-point line during the game, shooting 56 percent on 14 of 25 from beyond the arc.

That high 3-point percentage was in large part helped by Jones’ 6 of 7 from 3-point land.

For the game, the Bears shot a respectable 48.1 percent, McNeese State shot 41.7 percent, but only hit 9 of 24 shots from behind the 3-point line.

Sophomore guard A.J. Lawson led the Cowboys in the game with 15 points, followed closely by junior Dru Kuxhausen’s 14.

McNeese’s season leading scorer senior forward Sha’Markus Kennedy, who is averaging 17.8 points per game was held to just nine.

With that loss to UCA on Jan. 4, McNeese had a three-game losing streak, but after that loss, the Cowboys strung together a seven-game winning streak.

That winning streak was halted by the same Lamar Cardinals that beat the Bears on Wednesday 74-67.

The Cowboys followed that Feb. 1 loss up with a Feb. 5 loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Lawson and Kuxhausen are also averaging high point totals with Lawson following Kennedy with 16.9 points per game, while Kuxhausen is averaging 15.0.

Kennedy is also leading the team in rebounds per game with 10.2 as well as blocks with 66.

Lawson leads the team in steals with 26 as well as assists with 82.

The Bears are led by junior guard Rylen Bergersen’s 14.8 points per game, while tying Jones for the team-lead in assists.

Junior center Hayden Koval leads the team in rebounds per game with 7.6, while also leading the team in blocks with 75.

Junior forward Jared Chatham leads the team in steals with 20.

Tip-off for the men’s game is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The Sugar Bears (10-11, 6-6 SLC) and Cowgirls (5-16, 2-10 SLC) also met on that Jan. 4 date in Lake Charles.

UCA won the game handedly, beating McNeese State 70-57 behind a strong effort from the Sugar Bears’ lone senior Taylor Sells, who scored 22 in the win.

Junior guard/forward Briana Trigg and sophomore guard/forward Alana Canady each contributed 12 points in the win.

UCA had an efficient day at the free-throw line, hitting 24 of 28 shots in the win, while also holding the Cowgirls to 34.5 percent shooting in the game.

Senior forward Damilola Balogun led McNeese with a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double in the losing effort. Senior guard Regan Bolton contributed 12 points in the loss.

Unfortunately for the Cowgirls, it wasn’t the last or first loss of the conference season.

In fact, McNeese has struggled to get wins during SLC play as it has only beaten Northwestern State (61-51) and Houston Baptist (88-72).

The HBU win came Jan. 25. Since then, the Cowgirls have three straight losses.

Meanwhile, the Sugar Bears are coming off a pair of wins over those same Northwestern State Lady Demons (51-44) on the road and Lamar (53-29) at home.

Sophomore guard Callie Maddox leads the Cowgirls in points per game with 12.3, but has only played in eight games.

Balogun follows with 11.5 points per game, while Bolton is averaging 11.2.

Balogun leads the team in rebounds per game with 10.2, while also leading the team in blocks with eight.

Sophomore guard Rayah Haynes leads the team in assists with 63 and steals with 24.

Sells leads the Sugar Bears in points per game with 9.5, while also leading the team in assists with 56 and recently took the team-lead in steals with 21.

Junior forward Hannah Langhi leads the team in rebounds per game with 6.4 as well as blocks 23.

The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. tip Saturday in the Farris Center.

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