Sugar Bears split week’s games, sit at seventh in SLC

The UCA Sugar Bears basketball team lost 65-63 at the last second against the McNeese State University Cowgirls, then won their next game 66-63 against the Sam Houston State University Bearkats.

The Sugar Bears (15-11, 8-6 Southland Conference) missed a last-second shot against the Cowgirls (15-11, 9-6 SLC) on Feb. 18 after MSU junior guard Jayln Johnson hit a layup with 3.9 seconds left, putting the Cowgirls up by two.

Sophomore guard Brianna Mullins was able to get a shot off in the final seconds for UCA, but was just short of converting the contested attempt.

The loss to the Cowgirls makes the fifth game this season that the Sugar Bears have lost by three points or fewer.

UCA coach Sandra Rushing said the McNeese game was a heartbreaker.

“We played really hard the first half, but when you miss free throws and give up as many rebounds as we did, it’s going to be a close game,” she said.

UCA was nine for 13 from the free-throw line and shot 46 percent from the field. The Sugar Bears were out-rebounded 43-29, with eight offensive rebounds.

Sophomore guard Maggie Proffitt was the team’s leading scorer with 18 points and was three for five from the three-point line.

Junior guard Kendara Watts scored 16 points, while senior forward Brittany Agee added nine.

The Sugar Bears held their own against SHSU on Feb. 21, winning the game 66-63 after blowing a 23-point lead in the second half.

“I feel like we came out in the second half and relaxed a bit,” Proffitt said. “There is no excuse to why we should ever lose a 23-point lead. We have to learn to put our foot on the pedal and never take it off for the full 40 minutes.”

UCA’s big problem in the second half was SHSU junior guard Shernise Robertson, Southland Conference’s leading scorer at 19 points per game.

After UCA held Robertson to six points in the first half, she came out and scored 26 points in the second half, outscoring the Sugar Bears single-handedly 26-25.

Proffitt helped UCA keep the lead by hitting three of four from behind the 3-point arc in the second half.

Mullins also helped seal the game from the free-throw line, hitting five of eight.

With four conference games left in the season, every game is important for the Sugar Bears if they want to play extra games in March.

“The win against Sam Houston was very important because we are neck and neck with several teams in the conference and are fighting every game to solidify a spot in the tournament,” Proffitt said.

The Sugar Bears will play Sam Houston State again, this time on the road at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26.

After that game, the Sugar Bears will return to Conway to play their last home game in the Farris Center this season against the Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions on Feb. 28.

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