Sugar Bears pull away late against Liberty

Kierra Jordan splits Liberty defenders.

SAN ANTONIO — The University of Central Arkansas outscored Liberty, 20-8, in the fourth quarter to pull away in a game in which the Sugar Bears never trailed, winning 61-41 over the Lady Flames at UTSA’s Rae & Craig Blair Memorial Tournament.

Despite a rocky shooting night where they connected on just 37.3 percent of their shots, the Sugar Bears (7-2) led for nearly 38 minutes as they held the Lady Flames (1-7) to 28.6 percent shooting (14 of 49) and forced Liberty into 22 turnovers – converting those into 21 points. The Sugar Bears outrebounded the Lady Flames 46-37, including a season-high 20 on the offensive end.

The Sugar Bears led 24-19 after a low-scoring first half, but extended the lead to 10 late in the third quarter on a steal and layup by freshman guard Taylor Sells, who finished with six points and three steals in her first collegiate start. Central Arkansas continued to pull away in the fourth quarter, holding Liberty to only two field goals during the final period. The Sugar Bear lead hit 20 with 1:50 to go on a Maggie Proffitt 3-pointer, part of a 14-4 UCA run over the final five minute to close out the game.

 

During that final run, senior guard Brianna Mullins became UCA’s Division I career assist leader, feeding Proffitt for a 3-pointer with 4:09 to play for her 312th career assist. Mullins eclipses the mark set by Micah Rice from 2009-14, doing so in 30 fewer games.

After being held to three points in last week’s loss at Texas Tech, Proffitt led the Sugar Bears with 12 points in 28 minutes. Taylor Baudoin was in double figures for the sixth time in her last seven games, scoring 10 on 3 of 5 shooting in 20 minutes. Two Sugar Bears narrowly missed double-doubles as Kierra Jordan had nine points and 13 rebounds while Raquel Logan added eight and 12.

The win moves the Sugar Bears to 3-0 all time against teams from the Big South Conference. It was their first meeting against Liberty, which has been to 13 NCAA Tournaments since 2000, had 20 straight winning seasons, with 18 seasons of at least 20 wins, including nine in a row.

The Sugar Bears will meet another first-time opponent tomorrow in the last day of the Rae & Craig Blair Memorial Tournament, taking on the Houston Cougars at 4 p.m. in the final nonconference tuneup before beginning Southland Conference play on Dec. 31 in the Farris Center against Lamar.

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