Ibeh’s double-double leads Sugar Bears to victory

CONWAY – A Herculean effort from Lucy Ibeh powered the Sugar Bears to a 71-63 win over Jarvis Christian on Sunday, Jan. 2. After a slow first half, the University of Central Arkansas cranked up the intensity in the second half to get the job done, taking a 71-63 win over the visiting Bulldogs.

Three Sugar Bears scored in double-figures, led by Ibeh’s 25-point, 21-rebound effort. Ibeh’s 20-20 is the first stat line of that caliber since Megan Herbert in 2012, and it tied the fifth-most rebounds in a single-game in Sugar Bear history. Additionally, Hannah Langhi dropped 16 points and nine rebounds, and Savanna Walker added 10 points in the win. As a team, the Sugar Bears set a season-high with 59 rebounds, pulling in 20 boards on the offensive glass. UCA also connected on a season-best 23 free throws, hitting them at a 74% clip.  

Savanna Walker

It was not the most picturesque of starts for the Sugar Bears, clearly needing some WD-40 after a two-week break in playing. With its last game on Dec. 18, UCA came out flat, shooting only 21% in the first quarter.

To make matters worse, the slow, methodical style of the Sugar Bears was starkly contrasted by the Bulldogs, whose fast-paced, run-and-gun style caught them on their heels. After some defensive adjustments in the second quarter, the halftime score was 32-30 in favor of the visitors. At the break, Ibeh had already secured a double-double, with 12 points and 10 rebounds at halftime.

Coming out of the break with some obvious things to fix, the Sugar Bears turned the effort up to 11, led by Ibeh, crashing the offensive glass and sprinting from end to end, matching the speed of the visitors and using size and length to bother shots and passing lanes. Central Arkansas dominated the paint in the third quarter, creating second chance points and taking high-percentage shots to control the quarter 24-11. With the renewed energy and focus, the Sugar Bears reclaimed the lead, never to give it up again. With 10 points in the third, Ibeh crossed the 20-point threshold for the second time this season in the period.

Hannah Langhi

Though the Bulldogs fought like their namesake mascot, the Sugar Bears kept the visitors at arm’s length, pulling away with ball control and a steady diet of late-game free throws.

In addition to the volume of free throws taken by the home team, the Sugar Bears were also effective hitting them down the stretch, converting 11-of-15 in the second half, and 9-of-12 in the fourth quarter. After turning it over ten times in the first half, the script completely flipped in the second half as Central Arkansas turned it over on the first possession of the third quarter and then played a clean 19 minutes and 28 seconds through the final buzzer.

Ibeh set career marks in rebounds and assists, adding her usual impact on defense with two steals and a block. Her 10 field goals were a season-high, as the Lagos, Nigeria, native continued to bully her way to layups and short hooks in the paint.

The game marked the final tune-up for the Sugar Bears’ non-conference schedule.