The first-career double-double from Sugar Bear junior guard Brianna Trigg helped propel Central Arkansas to a dominating 70-49 win over McNeese State on Saturday at the Farris Center.
Trigg got going early, scoring eight of the Sugar Bears’ (11-11, 7-6 Southland Conference) first 12 points within a 4:16 span on her way to a 24-point, 11-rebound double-double in the win.
“Each game, I realize what my strengths and weaknesses are against our opponents,” Trigg said. “In this game, I was able to go against smaller guards and take it inside.”
It wasn’t just Trigg that was strong in the paint, but it was UCA as a whole, outscoring McNeese 38-8 in the paint.
That efficiency in the paint helped the Sugar Bears shoot 47.5 percent from the field for the game and helped lead to a 20-9 second quarter.
From her eight-point outburst to begin the game, Trigg managed just two field goals before halftime, but by the third quarter, she was back at it, scoring UCA’s first nine points of the second half.
Trigg’s nine points to begin the second half allowed the Sugar Bears to push out to a 49-30 lead with 6:09 left in the quarter.
But, from that point through the end of the quarter, the Cowgirls (5-17, 2-11 SLC) hit just one shot from the field when senior guard Regan Bolton hit a 3-pointer on the wing in front of her own bench.
The final seven points McNeese scored were all from the free-throw line.
It wasn’t just the third quarter, the Cowgirls struggled to shoot as they shot 27.3 percent from the field in the second quarter, 30.8 percent in the third and 16.7 percent in the fourth.
The trademark Sandra Rushing defense was on full display for the second time this week and during this game as McNeese struggled to get much going throughout the game.
“Coach (Rushing) preaches defense, and that was our main focus this week,” Trigg said.
On Wednesday, the Sugar Bears held Lamar to 29 points. It was the second time UCA has held a team under 30 points this season (26 versus the NAIA’s Crowley’s Ridge on Dec. 7, 2019).
But, despite hitting just 30.8 percent from the field in the third, the Cowgirls matched the Sugar Bears’ 18-point output for the quarter.
On the offensive end, UCA scored 70 points for just the fourth time this season with a 104-point game against Hendrix College on Nov. 12, 2019; an 82-point game in the aforementioned Crowley’s Ridge win; and both wins against McNeese as the last game against the Cowgirls, the Sugar Bears also scored 70.
Though UCA was strong from the field, the 3-point shooting and free-throw shooting left a lot to be desired.
The Sugar Bears made just one 3-pointer in the game when senior guard Taylor Sells splashed one in with 3:46 left in the first half. UCA missed its six other attempts.
And, from the charity stripe, the Sugar Bears made 13 of 23 for a 56.5 percent shooting percentage from the line.
UCA did win the rebounding battle 42-28 and took advantage of McNeese mistakes, scoring 26 points off turnovers.
“This was good,” Sugar Bears assistant coach Jason Conner said. “As coaches, we always want to be perfect. The effort was good and us knowing what they do is a big part of our game.We do need to get better at subbing and not get burned, though.”
Sells and freshman forward Terri Crawford finished with 11 points each, while Cowgirls freshman guard Kyla Hamilton led her team with 14 points, followed by Bolton’s 12.
UCA returns to the road with a 7 p.m. game Wednesday against the University of New Orleans in New Orleans, La.