The University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears matched the program’s longest Division I win streak Wednesday with a 75-48 win over Sam Houston State University in the Farris Center.
The Sugar Bears (20-4, 12-2 Southland Conference) reached 20 wins for the fifth time in eight seasons, which is the most in the SLC during that period.
The game looked like it would be tightly contested early on when the Bearkats’ junior Angela Delaney made a layup, giving SHSU (2-21, 2-11 SLC) an 8-7 lead.
However, that lead would not last long as the Sugar Bears scored 14 unanswered points, going up 22-8 with 1:51 left in the first quarter.
UCA’s scoring defense, top-ranked in the SLC and sixth in the nation, stifled the conference’s worst scoring defense, holding the Bearkats 32.1 percent from the field.
Conversely, the Sugar Bears shot 59.4 percent from the field until the fourth quarter when coach Sandra Rushing put in her reserves.
“Our bench has helped us all year,” she said. “This time of year, you have to be mentally ready to go when you’re on the bench. Physically, they are ready to go because they are already in shape and they’re fit, but when your number is called, you have to be ready to go.”
Rushing pulled her starters with 2:34 left in the game as the Sugar Bears were cruising into a 30-point lead.
That lead was eventually pushed to a 35-point lead with 4:56 left before SHSU went on a 10-2 run to close the game.
The Sugar Bears shot 50.8 percent of shots from the field for the game.
UCA recorded 24 assists on 31 made field goals.
“We shared the ball,” Rushing said. I thought at times, we took some quick shots, but I’m very proud of this team. We got outscored in the fourth quarter, but I had substitutions and trying some things. We are much better than 12 points in the fourth quarter.”
Senior Brianna Mullins was a perfect six for six from the field, including a three for three from 3-point range. She led all scorers with 17 points and recorded six rebounds and four assists.
“What can you say about Bri Mullins?” Rushing said. “She’s a winner and does everything for us. She’ll pick up the ball and play defense and she can score.”
Mullins was followed by senior Maggie Proffitt’s 14, junior Taylor Baudoin’s 13 and senior Raquel Logan’s 11.
The Bearkats were led by Delaney’s 11.
As the Sugar Bears push for a double bye in the SLC tournament, their final four regular season games start with hosting Houston Baptist University at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the Farris Center.