After wins against the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks and Jacksonville State University Gamecocks, the UCA women’s basketball team got off to its best start since the 2002-03 season before losing its second game of the season 81-60 to the Austin Peay Lady Govs.
The first game of a three-game stretch saw the Sugar Bears (5-2) win 63-56 in overtime over the Warhawks (2-3).
The win gave UCA its third consecutive win over ULM and allowed the Sugar Bears to move to 3-0 at home on the season.
Senior guard Micah Rice said playing in overtime was helpful for yonger players.
“ULM was a good experience for our team seeing that it was the first time for a lot of them experiencing an overtime game,” she said.
The Sugar Bears outscored the Warhawks 12-2 in the final 3:03, with Rice scoring six points in the final two minutes.
ULM senior guard Elexar Tugar opened overtime with a three-pointer to take the 54-51 lead but only made one more basket the rest of the game.
UCA tied the game at 54 on a basket and free throw from senior center Courtney Duever and didn’t look back.
The Sugar Bears defense held the Warhawks scoreless over the final two minutes of the game and forced 16 turnovers overall.
Neither team gained a clear advantage as the biggest lead was built to seven points and no more than five in the second half. The Sugar Bears led by five points with less than three minutes to go in regulation, but the Warhawks held them scoreless and senior guard Jasmine Shaw hit the game-tying free throw with 33 seconds left.
Freshman guard Brianna Mullins led UCA in scoring with 17 points and Duever recorded her second double-double of the season and 17th of her career.
She finished with 16 points, a season-high 13 rebounds and four assists.
ULM senior forward Ashleigh Simmons led anchored the Warhawk offense with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior guard Alexar Tuglar added 13 points in 39 minutes of play.
The second game of the three-game stretch saw the Sugar Bears beat the Gamecocks (2-5) 58-54.
UCA held onto a slim lead in the final minute of the game when Mullins hit two free throws and junior forward Tyisha Amos grabbed a rebound to secure the win.
The Sugar Bears led 56-52 with less than a minute to play when Amos grabbed an offensive rebound to keep possession with UCA with 44 seconds remaining.
After a timeout, the Gamecocks stole the inbounds pass and a layup from junior forward Gia Banks and trimmed the Sugar Bears’ lead to two with 36 seconds left.
UCA struggled at the line, converting six of 12 free throws, Mullins put the final blow to the Gamecocks with two free throws.
Duever recorded her third double-double of the season and 18th of her career. She finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Mullins scored in double digits with 13 points and added six rebounds.
Junior guard Candace Morton led the way for the Warhawks with 19 points and six rebounds.
The final game of the three-game stretch saw the Sugar Bears lose to Austin Peay 81-60.
Rice said the team didn’t play up to its potential.
“We came out with no intensity and that set the tone for us the entire game,” she said. “They beat us up and out the court, to loose balls.”
Junior forward Terai Sadler led the way for the Sugar Bears with 16 points. She made six of seven attempted shots.
Austin Peay sophomore guard Tiasha Gray set a career-high with 28 points, the second time she has set her career scoring best this season.
UCA struggled from the field, shooting 35.1 percent, while the Lady Govs had their best shooting night of the season as they made 59.3 percent of their shots, including 73.1 percent in the second half.
The Sugar Bears will play the University of Southern Mississippi Lady Eagles in the second game of a six game homestand.