Coach Rushing wins 450th career game after victory

UCA’s women’s basketball team lost a game on the road against the Northwestern State University Lady Demons but turned around and won its next game at home against the University of the Incarnate Word Lady Cardinals.

For the second time this season, the Sugar Bears (13-10, 6-5 Southland Conference) faced the Lady Demons (13-10, 8-4 SLC) on the road.

In the last meeting between the teams on Jan. 28 at the Farris Center, UCA beat Northwestern by 17 points.

The win sparked a three-game winning streak for the Sugar Bears until the Lady Demons snapped the streak Feb. 12, beating UCA by two with a 54-52 final score.

The Sugar Bears lost the game in the final seconds when NSU junior guard Janelle Perez drove to the basket, got fouled and sank two free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining.

There were 12 lead changes and seven ties in the game, with the Sugar Bears’ largest lead being four points with 6:14 left in the second half.

Coach Sandra Rushing said the team didn’t play well on the offensive end.

“We didn’t execute our offense,” Rushing said. “The lack of ball reversal and shot selection was different from when we played at home.”

Overall, UCA shot 38 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc and 83 percent from the free-throw line.

The Sugar Bears turned the ball over 14 times, and the Lady Demons capitalized on the turnovers, scoring 13 points off them.

UCA sophomore guard Brianna Mullins led the Sugar Bears with 18 points, also adding five rebounds and a steal.

Junior guard Kendara Watts added 11 points, while junior guard Jameka Watkins brought in nine points, 12 rebounds and six assists.

For the Lady Demons, Perez had 19 points and three steals.

Junior guard Keisha Lee scored 10 points and had four assists, while senior forward Presley Owens added nine.

After the loss against Northwestern, UCA returned to the Farris Center to play the UIW and won, giving Rushing her 450th career win.

Rushing was excited about the win and had a humble attitude toward her success, giving credit to her assistant coaches and players.

“Over the years, I have been lucky to have great coaches and great players who have bought into the system,” Rushing said. “My success is only as good as the people around me, and I have had a great cast this far. I hope for many more to come.”

Though UCA won the game against Incarnate Word (5-18, 2-10 SLC), Rushing said it wasn’t a pretty win.

“I was really happy with the win,” Rushing said. “We did not play our best basketball though, again the lack of offensive execution. We didn’t give up though, and we kept fighting. Even though we didn’t have our offensive flow, we continued to fight.”

UCA student assistant Tyisha Amos also said that the team didn’t play its best basketball.

“The win was decent,” Amos said. “I do believe that the girls could have played better. It wasn’t the best performance of Sugar Bear basketball, but a win is a win.”

The Sugar Bears’ leading scorer, sophomore guard Maggie Proffitt, who played the game with a 101 degree fever, tied Mullins as one of the day’s top scorers at 15 points. Watts also added 10 points.

The win pushed the Bears one step closer to making the conference tournament. With six games left in conference play, UCA sits at No. 6 in the SLC and will play No. 7 McNeese State at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 in the Farris Center.

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