Sugar Bears clinch a tournament spot with victory

The Central Arkansas women’s basketball team punched a ticket to the Southland Conference Tournament with a victory against McNeese on Monday in the Farris Center. Four Sugar Bears finished the game in double-digit points and three of them recorded double-doubles. UCA’s 62-47 victory improves the team’s record to 10-12 overall, 8-6 in SLC play, while the loss dropped McNeese to 6-13 overall, 6-6 in the conference.  

Lucy Ibeh

 “I’m happy with the win,” Head Coach Sandra Rushing said. “This is awesome! We’ve got to get some rest, it’s not an easy turnaround. We’ve talked about closing out the season strong and we’re shooting for the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament. We’ve made a lot of progress since the beginning of the season, but we can’t be satisfied and we need to continue to get better.”

The game started with the two teams trading baskets and the score was tied 4-4 with 6:05 left in the first quarter. Briana Trigg converted two free-throw attempts with 4:22 left in the stanza and gave UCA a 7-4 lead. After the Cowgirls made a jumper and cut the UCA lead to just one, Savanna Walker made a layup and put UCA back up by three. A minute later, Briana Trigg collected a defensive rebound and started a UCA fast-break opportunity. Briana Trigg took advantage of the two-on-one situation and found an open Ayanna Trigg for the layup. McNeese managed to cut the UCA lead to three, 11-8, before the end of the quarter.

The UCA offense continued to stay hot as the Sugar Bears scored the second quarter’s first four points and extended the lead to seven, 15-8. After McNeese cut the lead to five, Briana Trigg knocked down a jumper in the paint and Lucy Ibeh scored on a layup opportunity, to put UCA in front by nine, 19-10. The teams continued to trade baskets the remainder of the half and Central Arkansas took a seven-point lead into the half, 27-20.

The Sugar Bears opened the third with a 7-0 run and extended their lead to 14, 34-20. After McNeese made two free throws at the 6:01 mark, defense on both sides picked up and neither team was able to score in the game’s next two minutes. The dry spell was ended on a layup by McNeese. UCA capitalized on four free-throw opportunities, as Ayanna Trigg and Charlay Conway each made two. The Sugar Bears took a 40-32 lead into the final quarter.

McNeese started the fourth on a 7-2 run and cut the UCA lead to just three points, 42-39. UCA was resilient and responded with a 9-0 run to extend its lead to 51-39 with 4:34 left in regulation. The Sugar Bears kept their focus and never allowed the lead to get to single digits for the remainder of the game. Central Arkansas claimed a 62-47 lead. UCA is now 21-9 all-time against McNeese. 

Carley Hudspeth posted a team-high 14 points and added three rebounds. For the first-time this season and the first time in recent history, the Sugar Bears had three players record double-doubles. Ibeh and Briana Trigg each finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Ayanna Trigg finished the game with a game-high 11 boards and had 11 points. Ibeh collected her fifth double-double on the season. Ayanna and Briana Trigg produced their first double-doubles on the year and just their second of the careers. Jayla Cody was once again a force down low on the defensive end of the court as she posted a game-high three blocks.

As a team, UCA dominated the glass and outrebounded McNeese, 54-27. The Sugar Bears held a large advantage in the second-chance points as they outscored the Cowgirls 24-7. UCA finished the game shooting 37.5 percent from behind the arc, which is 10 percentage points higher than the season average. 

Kyla Hamilton led McNeese with a game-high 19 points and added four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block. Maia Robinson added 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.