Sugar Bears photo

The University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears fell 59-45 to McNeese State in Lake Charles, Louisiana, despite doubling up the Cowgirls in rebounds. UCA shot 29.4 percent from the field and turned the ball over 32 times in the loss.

LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana — The Central Arkansas women’s basketball team dropped the Southland Conference opener to McNeese Saturday at the Burton Coliseum, 59-45.

The Sugar Bears fell to 2-7 on the season, while the Cowgirls picked up their first win and improved to 1-7.

Jayla Cody paced UCA with a team-high nine points.

The Cowgirls opened the game on fire as they tied a season high 14 points in the first quarter. McNeese averaged 27.2 percent from the field on the season, but were able to shoot 40 percent in the opening stanza. The Sugar Bears were held to six points with all three field goals being layups.

The Cowgirls continued to have the hot hand as they improved to 66.7 percent from the field in the second quarter.

McNeese posted the most points it has scored with 21 in the period.

UCA scored five of its nine points from the free-throw line.

The Cowgirls held a 35-15 lead at the break.

Lucy Ibeh led UCA with five points and six rebounds, while Romola Dominguez led the team with two steals.

The Sugar Bears’ offense showed signs of life in the third as they outscored the Cowgirls, 17-10, but trailed 45-32 after three quarters of play.

Cody scored seven of UCA’s 17 points in the period and brought down five rebounds.

Ayanna Trigg collected the lone blocked shot in the stanza.

The UCA defense picked up the intensity in the third as it held McNeese to just 18.2 percent from the field.

The Sugar Bears managed to cut the McNeese lead to nine points with 2:15 left in regulation, but the early deficit was too much to overcome.

Cody finished with a career-high nine points, seven rebounds, and a game-high two blocks. Dominguez and Savanna Walker tied for a team lead with two steals each.

Ayanna Trigg brought down a season-high eight rebounds, which was a game high, and produced a game-high three assists. Briana Trigg and Terri Crawford each added eight points for UCA.

As a team, the Sugar Bears more than doubled the Cowgirls in rebounds, 51-25, and held the advantage in second-chance points, 15-3. UCA outscored McNeese in the paint, 28-22.

Kyla Hamilton had a game-high 15 points, a game-high eight steals, and a team-high seven rebounds for the Cowgirls.

Claralee Richard and Mychala Linzy posted double-digits with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Richard produced the lone blocked shot for McNeese.

The Cowgirls finished the game with 17 steals and forced 32 UCA turnovers.

Fast-break points and points off of turnovers were the keys to the Cowgirls’ victory, as they outscored UCA 21-0 and 23-4, respectively.

This was the first time McNeese head coach Kacie Cryer defeated UCA in seven meetings.

The Sugar Bears return to action Wednesday in New Orleans.

UCA and New Orleans are scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip.

“We got outworked, outplayed, and outcoached,” UCA coach Sandra Rushing said. “Their physicality hurt us. We did not respond very well. McNeese is not an 0-7 team. Having only one practice before we played them really affected us.”

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