With the head coaches on the road recruiting, the University of Central Arkansas basketball team sent in the reserves to handle the conversation at Monday’s weekly Bearbacker luncheon.
One of them was this week’s Southland Conference Women’s Player of the Week, an honor that the Sugar Bears’ Megan Herbert has made a habit of achieving.
Monday, she achieved another kind of double-double — accepting hugs and praise from supporters, then explaining how the Sugar Bears rebounded from a decisive loss to Lamar to defeat McNeese State in overtime Saturday on Senior Day for the Cowgirls’ Baggett twins, Ashlyn and Caitlyn.
For the third year, the Sugar Bears and the Cowgirls played an overtime game with UCA prevailing.
What Herbert remembered was dribbling off her foot out of bounds after switching to point guard and trying to set up a last-second shot with the score tied in regulation.
“Fortunately, one of the twins didn’t shoot the last-second shot, then we were able to win in overtime,” said Herbert, who had 35 points and 17 rebounds.
She praised her teammates, particularly the defense of freshman Jameka Watkins and senior Tracy Parsons in overtime as the UCA women upped their record to 15-13, 8-9 in the Southland.
The women’s basketball rivalry between UCA and McNeese is one of the best in the Southland Conference, usually resulting in close, tightly played games.
“We hate each other, not literally, but just when we go on the court,” Herbert said. “They’re always very good and they are always at the top and we’re usually in the mix. We just play very hard against each other.”
She added, “It’s been an up-and-down season, but we’re really happy that this could give us confidence going into the conference tourney.”
First, Herbert and four other players will have their Senior Day on Saturday afternoon in the Sugar Bears’ final regular-season game against Oral Roberts at the Farris Center.
Anthony Walker, a former Hendrix player who is the Bears’ assistant coach, filled in for head coach Corliss Williamson in explaining the Bears’ four-game winning streak, which included an overtime victory over Lamar and a 68-67 win over McNeese State.
The Bears came back from 17 points against McNeese State, the team immediately ahead of them in the standings.
“When we fell behind, we were not nervous,” Walker said. “I could see it in our players’ eyes during the timeouts. I knew we were not going to quit.”
That win came after a day after the Bears clinched their first Southland Conference tournament berth with a double-overtime victory at Lamar, one in which LaQuintin Miles hit a shot at the buzzer to force a second overtime.
“I was watching ESPN in our motel room later and I texted a recruit, “Turn on your television. We just made SportsCenter,” said Walker.
He continued, “When we went into double-overtime, we felt we were the better-conditioned team.”
He talked about the importance of the Bears’ last regular-season game Saturday against Oral Roberts at the Farris Center.
“We want to go into the tournament full throttle,” he said. “If things break the way we expect, we could be playing Oral Roberts in the second round of the conference tournament. One of the keys in basketball is getting hot at the right time going into postseason play.”
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 501-505-1235. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us sports news at email@example.com)