By DAVID MCCOLLUM
LOG CABIN DEMOCRAT
Wounded from shellings at Huntsville, the University of Central Arkansas basketball teams head to the southwest Texas coast Saturday in hopes of recovery.
The UCA teams complete their longest road trip of the season with a doubleheader at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, whose women’s and men’s teams are ranked among the bottom teams in the Southland Conference. Games are set for noon and 2:30 p.m.
Sam Houston State (8-9) handed the Sugar Bears (11-5, 4-1) their first conference loss of the season Thursday night, leading almost wire to wire in a 64-48 victory. The Bearkats (4-1 in conference) handed the Bears (5-10) their fifth straight SLC loss with a 63-52 victory.
THE LOGJAM: Four teams are now tied atop of SLC women’s standings with 4-1 marks (UCA, Sam Houston State, Lamar and Oral Roberts). McNeese State, which defeated Sam Houston State last weekend, is close behind at 3-2.
THE SITUATIONS: The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women, under new coach Royce Chadwick, are 1-15, 0-5 in conference. With two of the top teams (McNeese State and Lamar) coming to Conway net week, a victory over the Islanders is critical.
The Bears are in a deep hole in the early part of the SLC race and it’s pretty much a must-win situation against the Islanders (2-13, 1-4) to have realistic hopes of moving to the upper echelon of the league standings.
STAT LINES: The Sugar Bears entered the Sam Houston game averaging 48 percent shooting in conference play. Thursday, they shot 28.1 percent from the field to Sam Houston’s 43.4 percent, well above its average of 36.9 percent. The Bearkats were 41.7 percent from 3-point range.
The Sam Houston State men were seven of 17 on 3-pointers, their best effort of the season, while UCA shot 38.5 percent. Paul Baxter, a freshman guard for the Bearkats who was averaging 6.0 points going into the game, was nine for nine at the foul line for 19 points.
ALSO NOTABLE: The Sugar Bears’ Megan Herbert scored 14 points and had 14 rebounds for her 73rd career double-double. The conference’s all-time leader in free throws made did not shoot a free throw. Courtney Duever added 14 points for the UCA women.
Miles topped the Bears with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Jarvis Garner, the fifth-leading scorer in the SLC, finished with just six points for the Bears and was held to single digits for the second time in three games. Robert Crawford, the top 3-point shooter in the league, went one for five and finished with eight points. LaQuentin Miles led the UCA men with 13 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
THE SURGES: Trailing by 11 at the half, the Sugar Bears cut the deficit to five points on three occasions in the second half, but SHSU pulled away with a 15-4 run over the final 7:25. It was the third straight loss for the Sugar Bears in Johnson Coliseum.
SAME OLE: “It was the same old song, like a broken record, getting down early in the game,” said UCA head men’s coach Corliss Williamson. “That’s definitely something we have to take a look at. We have to find a way to start the game off better. “But I thought Sam Houston really did a good job, particularly defensively. They are tough defensively, they are physical. And our guys just couldn’t match that.”
(UCA Sports Information assisted in this report)