ABILENE, Texas — The University of Central Arkansas outscored Abilene Christian, 31-19 ,in the fourth quarter, but what the Lady Wildcats did in the middle two quarters proved decisive in an 83-76 victory at Moody Coliseum.
The game was a battle of last year’s top teams in the Southland Conference. The Lady Wildcats had the best record during the regular season but were ineligible because of NCAA Division I transitionl. The Sugar Bears won the postseason tourney, earning the automatic NCAA bid.
Holding a 20-16 lead after a first quarter in which they shot 64.3 percent, the Sugar Bears (9-4, 1-2 Southland) saw their lead disappear early in the second quarter as the Wildcats (9-6, 3-0) went on a 15-0 run to assume control of the game.
Over the second and third quarters, ACU outscored the Sugar Bears, 48-25, taking a 19-point lead into the final period, 64-45.
The Sugar Bears rallied in the fourth, going 12 of 19 (63.2 percent) from the field and holding ACU to only four field goals as they trimmed the deficit to as little as seven, but could pull no closer despite a combined 24 points from Kierra Jordan and Raquel Logan in the quarter.
The loss was the first on the road in conference play for the Sugar Bears since March of 2015, and the Wildcats extended their streak to 14 straight wins on their home floor against Southland competition.
ACU’s game-changing run was sparked by their perimeter shooting, as the Wildcats put together a stretch where they made six of eight from long distance. During the middle two periods, the Wildcats were nine of 13 – including five of 5five in the 3rd quarter – from 3-point range.
For the game, the Wildcats were 13 of 26 from beyond the arc, matching their season high. The Sugar Bears, conversely, were four of 10 and just two of seven over the last three quarters.
ACU held a decided advantage at the free throw line, knocking down 22 of 24 (91.7 percent), while the Sugar Bears were just 10 of 17 (58.8).
Though the Sugar Bears held a decided advantage on points in the paint (40-22), the Wildcats outscored the Sugar Bears 13-0 in transition and held a 10-3 advantage in second-chance points off their 10 offensive rebounds as they outrebounded UCA, 38-21.
Jordan led Central Arkansas with 21 points, with 15 coming in the final quarter. Brianna Mullins and Maggie Proffitt had 14 each, with Proffitt getting 11 in the opening quarter; and Logan finishes with 13 points, a team-high eight rebounds and three blocks.
The Sugar Bears will continue their road swing on Wednesday when they face Houston Baptist at 1:00pm before traveling to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday.