Saturday, when Conway Regional Hospital is sponsoring a health fair and the University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears will play a PinkZone game to promote cancer awareness, both UCA teams will be trying to get well in home games against Sam Houston State.
Going into the stretch run of the season, both the Bears and Sugar Bears are in a bind as far as gaining one of eight berths in the Southland Conference Tournament. The Bears (9-14, 4-9) have lost three games in a row. The Sugar Bears (13-11, 6-7) have lost five in a row and six of their last seven, including three in a row at the Farris Center.
The health fair begins at 1 p.m. The UCA women will play Sam Houston State at 2 p.m. The Bears will play about 25 minutes after that game.
Both UCA teams suffered stinging defeats Thursday night to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi teams that are a combined 8-38.
The Islanders shot a blistering 61.9 percent from the field in the second half for a 75-68 victory.
The Bears trailed 37-36 at halftime, then pulled to within five points at 66-63 with 1:33 to play on consecutive three-point plays by Robert Crawford and LaQuentin Miles. But the Islanders got a 3-pointer from Will Nelson with 52 seconds left and Johnathan Jordan made four of four at the line in the final 20 seconds to seal the victory.
“For us offensively, they just really got into us and were pressuring us and we didn’t respond at all,” said UCA coach Corliss Williamson. “We were playing basketball east and west, side to side, instead of attacking the basket and getting to the paint. And we were turning the basketball over, that was the most frustrating part. We are the pressuring team but we ended up with 18 turnovers.”
Miles, a junior guard from Jacksonville, led UCA with 20 points, while Crawford added 15 and Jarvis Garner 14.
THE SITUATION: The UCA men trail sixth-place Nicholls State (5-7) by one game with five to play in the regular season. Close behind the Bears are McNeese State and TAMCC, which went to 5-18, 3-9 in the league with the win over UCA.
Despite Megan Herbert’s 35 points and 15 rebounds, the Sugar Bears never led and fell 60-58 in overtime to the Lady Islanders (3-20), who won their second straight game and improved to 2-10 in the SLC.
It was the 78th career double-double for Herbert.
UCA, which trailed by 19 at one point in the second half, pulling even with 30 seconds left on a turnaround jumper by Courtney Duever.
In overtime, the game was deadlocked at 58 from the 2:00 mark until the final seconds.
After a UCA turnover with 32 seconds remaining, the Islanders’ Taryn Gregory drew a foul with just over three seconds to go. Gregory hit the second of her two to give the Islanders a 59-58 lead, and the Sugar Bears took a timeout to draw up a final play. On the inbounds pass, Julia Mason threw the ball three-quarters of the length of the floor attempting to connect with Herbert, who was surrounded by Islanders and the pass was intercepted. Herbert quickly fouled the Islanders’ Brandi Huff with 1.2 seconds to go, and Huff knocked down the second to give the Islanders a two-point cushion.
Herbert made a desperation heave from well beyond half court, but it narrowly missed the mark and the Sugar Bears fell for the fifth game in a row and first in four times to the Islanders.
Herbert’s 15 rebounds gives her 1,373 for her career, third most in Southland Conference history. She needs 16 to pass Joskeen Garner of Northwestern State (1993-96) for second. Herbert was 12 of 23 from the field, going 3-for-8 from 3-point range, and was perfect in eight free-throw attempts. The rest of the Sugar Bears shot just 7 of 29 (24.1 percent), with Rogers contributing nine points, Tracey Parsons six and Duever and Mason four apiece.
THE SITUATION: The Sugar Bears have five games remaining — two at home — and all against top contenders. Sam Houston State (9-3) was the league leader but drew into a tie with a loss Thursday to Oral Roberts (9-4). Lamar is tied with Sam Houston for first at 9-3. Nicholls State and McNeese State are tied for fourth at 7-5. UCA, 6-6 in the league, is just ahead of Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin, 5-8.
After Saturday’s game, the Sugar Bears have road games at Lamar and McNeese State and a home-and-home with travel partner ORU.
(UCA Sports Information contributed to this report)