Three teams are tied for the lead as the Southland Conference women’s basketball race nears the midway point.

But the University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears are concerned Thursday night with an ominous group immediately behind them.

UCA (12-5), Sam Houston State and Lamar are all tied for first place with 5-1 league records.

At the next level is McNeese State (8-9, 3-3), the defending tournament champion and the preseason favorite.

The Cowgirls, who handed Sam Houston its only conference defeat, need a victory over the Sugar Bears tonight to stay connected to the leaders.

That game will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Farris Center.

After a long road trip to Huntsville and Corpus Christi, Texas, UCA will now play four straight home games beginning Thursday and Saturday.

The Bears (6-10, 1-5) return home on the heels of their first SLC victory, a 76-67 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Saturday afternoon in Corpus Christi. UCA came back from a 10-point halftime deficit and made 8 of 12 from 3-point range in the second half to pull away for the victory. They will take on the Cowboys about 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

"Just the emotion in that locker room was great," said UCA head coach Corliss Williamson. "It’s something we can build on. We have four games in a row at the Farris Center and hopefully we can take some of the momentum and carry it over and get these games at home. We’ve had a tough run so far in conference play, but hopefully this will help us turn that corner."

McNeese State (8-8, 2-4) has had UCA’s number of late, winning the past four meetings. UCA’s last victory in the series was in the 2010 season finale in Lake Charles, La. The Cowboys are coming off a 74-50 home victory over winless Lamar. They have won two of their past three games after a four-game losing streak.

Earlier in the season, MSU won five straight games, including wins at Texas Tech and at home against Louisiana Tech.