The buzzsaw hit on all cylinders in the second half for the University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears on Saturday at the Farris Center.
In one of the best 20 minutes in recent history, the UCA women (12-6, 6-1) cranked up a 27-2 run in taking apart Stephen F. Austin, 65-42. The Lady Jacks were the preseason favorite in the SLC who stood a game behind them in the standings.
In winning their fourth game in a row, the UCA women remained solely atop the league standings, a game ahead of Lamar.
The Sugar Bears had one of those halves in which everything went right. They led 32-28 at the half in an evenly played game.
“The first couple of minutes I didn’t think we matched their intensity,” said UCA coach Sandra Rushing. “Then, we settled down. Micah (Rice) got us settled and Courtney Duever put on a show and Brittany Agee did an outstanding job defensively (helping hold Porsha Roberts, SFA’s leading scorer to 13 points).
SFA (10-9, 4-3) went 7:50 without a field goal the second half as the Sugar Bears outshot, outhustled, outrebounded and out-everythinged the Lady Jacks. SFA got some good looks but missed an assortment of shots at point-blank range.
The 14 points was by far the lowest output in the second half this season by the Lady Jacks. It was also their lowest total of the season and their worst second half (25 percent (five of 20).
“That’s an excellent basketball team we beat,” Rushing said. “They were playing without their point guard (Brittney Matthew, torn ACL) and it takes awhile to adjust to that. They’ll be a better team in February.”
With UCA leading 36-33, Duever ignited things the second half by maneuvering for a traditional three-point play, then following that with a drive and a baseline shot. That led to two more three-point plays (by Duever and Agee) as the Sugar Bears suddenly surged to a 53-34 lead. Agee and Brianna Mullins split the SFA defense for layups, then Jameka Watkins scored off an steal and the UCA lead mushroomed to 61-35 with 5:47 left.
Duever, the senior post, led with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Maggie Proffitt, who hit two straight 3-pointers in the final 2:41 of the first half to pull the Sugar Bears out of an 8:04 scoring drought, added 13 points.
The UCA women head back on the road this week to play McNeese State and Nicholls State.