LAKE CHARLES, La. — For the third straight year, the Central Arkansas and McNeese State women’s basketball teams needed overtime to determine a winner. And for the third straight year, it was the Sugar Bears.
Senior forward Megan Herbert tied her season high with 35 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead the Sugar Bears (15-13, 8-9 Southland) in their highest scoring effort of the conference season as they knocked off the Cowgirls (15-12, 10-6) 77-69 on Senior Day at McNeese, defeating the Cowgirls for the sixth time in their last nine meetings. Two seasons ago UCA defeated McNeese 74-73 in overtime in the Farris Center, then did it again last season with a 71-70 double-overtime win.
“This was a great team win,” said Herbert, who became the third-leading scorer in Southland Conference history while recording the 82nd double-double of her career. “We came out focused and we were ready even with all the distractions before the game. We kept our focus and knew it was their senior night, and what they did to us on our home floor earlier this year was embarrassing. We wanted to come back and get our revenge, and get our confidence up before heading into the last game and the conference tournament.”
The Sugar Bears trailed 65-62 with 30 seconds remaining when junior center Courtney Duever converted a three-point play to draw UCA even. McNeese, which was playing its final home game with senior all-conference twin guard Ashlyn and Caitlyn Baggett, had the last shot but came up empty as Cecilia Okoye’s field goal attempt in the lane was off the mark and Herbert corralled the rebound to send the game to the extra period.
UCA wasted little time jumping on the Cowgirls in overtime, scoring the first six points and holding the Cowgirls scoreless for more than two minutes. McNeese answered with a pair of scores from Okoye to draw within 71-69 with 2:01 to go.
Neither team scored again until 58 seconds remained when UCA freshman Jameka Watkins sank a pair of free throws to push the UCA lead to four. Ashlyn Baggett then misfired on a 3-pointer, and Duever – who had 13 points and 14 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the season – was there to grab the miss. She then got the ball to Herbert, who was fouled with 18 seconds remaining. Herbert, the Southland’s career record holder in free throws made, knocked them both down to give the Sugar Bears a six-point cushion.
Caitlyn Baggett’s 3-point attempt on the Cowgirls’ ensuing trip was off the mark and Duever was again there for the rebound. The ball again found its way to Herbert, who again connected on both free throws for a 77-69 lead and what would be the final points of the game.
“We never gave up,” Herbert said of the Sugar Bears, who were down for much of the game and trailed by as many as eight. “We were able to take their runs when they made them, and kept our focus. We tried to focus on guarding the twins because we know they are great players and they’re going to hit their shots. We just wanted to make sure they were contested and not wide open.”
The Baggett twins combined for 35 points (19 for Caitlyn and 16 for Ashlyn), but shot just 11-for-34 from the field. Okoye added 16 on 6-for-15 shooting.
In addition to Herbert’s 35-point, 17-rebound effort that was the 14th 30-point game and 32nd 15-rebound game of her career and Duever’s 15th career double-double, the Sugar Bears got 10 points, three assists and two steals from senior Desiree’ Rogers to go with a strong bench outing.
Senior guard Tracey Parsons had 12 points in her highest-scoring game of the conference season, while Watkins added seven points, a season-high seven rebounds, and three assists in 24 minutes.