Despite a furious rally in the final two minutes, the University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears fell 78-73 to Belmont on Saturday at the Farris Center.
Trailing 10 with less than 1:45 remaining, the Sugar Bears (2-4) found the shooting touch that had eluded them most of the day and scored 11 points in 54 seconds to find themselves down 71-68 with 42 seconds to go but could not pull off the comeback.
Westin Taylor got the run started with a 3-pointer at the 1:36 mark, and, after two free throws from Belmont’s Shaunda Strayhorn, Destinee Rogers followed with one of her own at the 1:14 mark to pull the Sugar Bears within 69-63.
After Belmont (2-3) got free throws from Kristin Nash and Molly Ernst, Sidney Stewart hit from outside to give the Sugar Bears their third from 3-point range in less than a minute and bring the score to 71-66.
On the ensuing inbounds pass, Rice stripped the ball from Strayhorn and drew a foul. She hit both, cutting the UCA deficit to three.
Ernst hit two more free throws with 40 seconds to go, but another 3-pointer from Rice with 31 seconds to play cut the Bruins’ lead to two at 73-71. Ernst followed with two more free throws, and Rice’s try from beyond the arc on the opposite end fell short.
Belmont’s Tereva Moore got the rebound, was fouled, and hit both free throws to extend the Bruins’ lead back out to six with just 15 seconds left. Stewart then misfired on a 3-point try, and Ernst made another free throw for a seven-point lead with five seconds left.
Rogers was fouled on a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining and hit two from the line to set the final score.
Strayhorn led the way for the Bruins, narrowly missing a triple-double with 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Ernst had 18 and Haley Nelson added 17.
Herbert had 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Sugar Bears, who had four reach double figures in scoring. Rogers had 15, Stewart 12 and Rice 10.
The Sugar Bears shot just 29.4 percent (20 of 68) for the game, while Belmont was 21 of 44 for 47.7 percent. UCA was 13 of 36 (36.1 percent) from 3-point range, the third most attempts and fifth most makes in program history.
Herbert’s 16 rebounds marked the 13th time in her career she has grabbed 15 or more. She had five by the first media timeout. UCA scored its first 15 points of the game with 3-pointers, taking a 15-9 lead on Stewart’s first with 11:28 to go in the first half. That would turn out to be UCA’s largest lead. The Sugar Bears’ first two-point field goal came nearly 12 minutes into the game, a baseline jumper from Desiree’ Rogers. Seven different Sugar Bears connected from beyond the arc, including the first of the season for centers Porsha Donnerson and Megan Moss.
UCA will host Lipscomb at 7 p.m. Monday night.