The Sugar Bears (25-10, 14-4 SLC) lost to Yale University (19-13, 8-6 IL) in a 54-50 nail-biter on March 29 at the
Women’s Basketball Invitational Championship game.
It was a back-and-forth game, with neither team gaining more than an 8-point lead.
The Sugar Bears came out hot, opening the game on a 9-2 run and forcing Yale into two early timeouts after taking a 16-8 lead.
UCA went into the second quarter with a 7-point lead, despite senior center Kierra Jordan going to the bench with
two early fouls. The Sugar Bears were primarily able to work around this foul trouble with their defense.
They held Yale to only 33-percent shooting for the half, while also forcing six turnovers.
However, the Bulldogs leaned on their defense to stay in the game as well, holding UCA to only 9 points in the second quarter.
Still, UCA held on to a 27-24 lead going into halftime.
Yale made the first run to open the second half, scoring 7 quick points to take their first lead 31-29. The Bulldogs looked to extend their lead before the fourth, but a crafty steal on a free throw rebound by Jordan cut it to 41-39 and gave UCA the momentum.
The final quarter held five lead changes and a host of big shots by both teams. Early in the frame, senior guard Angel Williams knocked down a deep 3-pointer, regaining the lead for the Sugar Bears.
However, Yale would respond again almost immediately to regain a 47-44 lead. But then, a steal leading to an easy layup and a pair of free throws from senior forward Taylor Baudoin, put UCA right back on top 48-47 in the seesaw affair.
Yale would come right back to take a 50-48 lead, behind a layup through a foul from sophomore guard Roxy Barahman with only one minute remaining. Again, the Sugar Bears leaned on Baudoin, and she was able to deliver on a stepback jumper to tie the game 50-50.
The Bulldogs made a shot through a foul after an offensive rebound from senior forward Jen Berkowitz to take the final lead of the game.
However, the lead stayed at two due to the missed free throw attempt.
“We got outplayed, outworked, and we didn’t listen to the game plan. I’m not proud of the way this ended. We got a second chance to play for a championship on our home floor and we didn’t seal the deal, and I take responsibility for that,” coach Sandra Rushing said.
Free throws also played a big role in the outcome. Yale was able to shoot 80 percent from the line, while the Sugar Bears only shot 9 of 17, leaving them at 53 percent.
The Sugar Bears were led in scoring by Baudoin with 21 points and six rebounds, while Jordan added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Berkowitz and senior guard Tamara Simpson led the Bulldogs with 12 points each.
Photo by Waid Rainey.