Bears, Sugar Bears face tough challenges as they play SFA

Photo by UCA Sports InformationThe University of Central Arkansas Bears and Sugar Bears continue conference play Wednesday with games against top conference foes Stephen F. Austin. The Bears host the Lumberjacks in the Farris Center, while the Sugar Bears travel to SFA.

If last Saturday didn’t present enough of a challenge for both Central Arkansas Basketball teams, Wednesday brings its own difficulty.

Both Bears and Sugar Bears will play Stephen F. Austin with the men at the Farris Center and the women on the road in Nacogdoches, Texas.

On Jan. 11, the Bears (5-12, 4-2 Southland Conference) picked up a tough win over Sam Houston State as UCA was efficient from the free-throw line, hitting 33 of 38 shots from the charity stripe.

The Bears also benefitted from a career-high 33 points from junior guard DeAndre Jones in the win.

Jones did tweak something at the end of the game, but seemed to be in good spirits after the game that he won’t miss much if any time at all.

And, the Bears will need him as the challenge ahead is indeed a tough one.

The Lumberjacks (13-3, 4-1 SLC) have been a Southland basketball powerhouse and thus far this season, it looks to be another tough out when SLC Tournament play comes at the end of the season.

On Nov. 26, SFA beat then No. 1-ranked Duke as Lumberjacks senior forward Nathan Bain hit a buzzer-beating layup in overtime for SFA to beat the Blue Devils 85-83.

The Bears played that same Duke team just 14 days earlier and UCA lost 105-54.

But, plenty of time has changed since then even if it doesn’t bring much excitement to the Bear faithful.

More recently, the Lumberjacks had a six-game winning streak snapped at the hands of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last Wednesday.

That is the same Islanders team the Bears beat on Dec. 21.

SFA is led in scoring by senior guard Kevon Harris’ 18.1 points per game.

Junior forward Gavin Kensmil leads the team in rebounds per game at 7.0, while junior forward Charlie Daniels leads the team in blocks with 13 and senior guard John Comeaux leads the team in steals with 34 and assists with 46.

Junior guard Rylan Bergersen leads the Bears in points per game with 14.5, while also leading the team in assists with 49.

Junior forward Jared Chatham leads the team in steals with 15, while junior center Hayden Koval leads the team in rebounds per game at 6.8 and blocks with 58.

The game tips off at 7 p.m. inside the Farris Center.

The Sugar Bears (7-8, 3-3 SLC) couldn’t knock off undefeated Sam Houston State last Saturday at the Farris Center as poor shooting in the second quarter ultimately doomed the UCA on its way to a 72-54 defeat.

It was the second time in as many games that the Sugar Bears struggled to knock down shots as they only managed 17 points in the final three quarters in a 49-37 loss to New Orleans last Wednesday.

UCA will have its hands full when it travels to SFA to play the Lady Jacks (11-3, 4-1 SLC).

Like the Sugar Bears, SFA lost to the Privateers, which is its only conference loss.

The Lady Jacks bounced back to beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 66-44 last Wednesday.

SFA is tied with Abilene Christian as the two teams sit behind SHSU in the conference standings.

The Sugar Bears are now looking up at six teams ahead of them in the standings.

Leading the Lady Jacks in scoring is sophomore guard Stephanie Visscher’s 14.9 points per game.

She also leads the team in assists at 49 and steals at 29 and is second on the team in rebounds per game with 7.8.

Leading the rebounding category is sophomore center Aiyana Johnson’s 8.4, while junior center Aaliyah Johnson leads the team in blocks with 12.

The Sugar Bears are led in scoring by senior guard Taylor Sells’ 9.7 points per game.

She also leads the team in assists with 39.

Junior forward Hannah Langhi leads the team in rebounds per game with 5.9 as well as blocks with 13.

Langhi and junior forward Ayanna Trigg lead the team in steals with 15.

The two teams are scheduled to tip off at 6:30 p.m. in Nacogdoches, Texas.

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