Megan Herbert reached a milestone 13 seconds into the game Saturday.
It took only slightly longer for the Sugar Bears to get to 4-0 in the Southland Conference.
The University of Central Arkansas controlled the opening tip and got the ball to Herbert, their All-American post, down low. She powered in her shot for her 2,000th career point. The game against Northwestern State was halted momentarily to present the ball to the 5-foot-11 senior, and for a warm hug from coach Sandra Rushing.
Shortly after the fanfare, the Sugar Bears were teetering with a 20-18 lead with 4:31 left, Rushing called time and spent all of it meeting with the officials in a not-so-good mood.
The Sugar Bears came out of the huddle with no words from Rushing and went on an 11-0 run to close the half, providing the impetus for a 60-44 victory that made them the only undefeated team in SLC play at 4-0.
“We wanted to go with the first play, stop the game and get it over with,” said Herbert, who scored 22 points to go with eight rebounds. “I wanted to get it done right away and not have to worry about it. It was a simple play we run all the time — just go get it. But it was kind of exciting.”
Also exciting for fans at the Farris Center was the Sugar Bears (10-4, 4-0) extending their regular-season home court winning streak to 25 and taking over sole possession of first place after McNeese State defeated Sam Houston State.
The Sugar Bears outscored the Lady Demons (5-10, 1-4) in the paint, 26-12, and had 20-9 edge off turnovers.
But the game turned dramatically when both Rushing and some reserves came off the bench.
While Rushing was having a lively discussion with the officials, seemingly asking plenty of questions, the Sugar Bears came out of the huddle and a mixture of starters and subs for the 11-0 run that staggered the visitors for good.
“That’s why you have a staff,” said Rushing, about not saying anything to her team during the timeout.
“We knew what we had to do,” said Herbert.
Kelcia Bufkin started the run with a jumper, followed a shot in the lane by Herbert and a 3-pointer by Duever.
The UCA women pulled out to a 20-point lead in the first five minutes of the second half, rendering most of the rest of the half a formality.
“Our bench came in today and really gave us a spark; they picked up the intensity,” said Rushing. “We came out more focused the second half.”
Duever, a 5-foot-11 junior post, hit all seven of her shots frrm the field, including three of three from 3-point range, on the way to 19 points.
“Courtney had an outstanding offensive game, but she’s got to play both ends of the court and she’s capable of doing that,” said Rushing.
The UCA women shot 50 percent from the field, held Northwestern State to 40 percent shooting, but hit only 12 of 19 free throws.
“There are things to work on, including free throws,” said Rushing. “That goes back to focus.”
The Sugar Bears play at Sam Houston State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi next week.