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Sugar Bears Drop Heartbreaker in Abilene



ABILENE, TX — The Central Arkansas women’s basketball team lost a hard-fought battle against Abilene Christian on Saturday. Lucy Ibeh led UCA with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Sugar Bears fell to 3-10 overall and 1-4 in the Southland, while the Wildcats improved to 10-3 overall and 3-1 in the Southland. ACU knocked off UCA 60-58 with a last-second shot.

Savanna Walker got UCA started fast with a quick steal and a fast-break layup for the first points of the game. ACU and UCA exchanged points, until Ibeh brought down an offensive rebound and made the layup to give the Sugar Bears the lead. After a 3-pointer from ACU, Ibeh made another layup after she collected another offensive rebound for the last points of the first. The UCA defense held ACU to 36.4 percent from the field, which is below ACU’s season average.

The Wildcats opened the second quarter with a layup to tie the game. Tori Lasker knocked down a 3-pointer to put UCA back on top, but ACU responded with a 3-pointer of its own and tied the game at 16-16. The defensive intensity picked up on both sides as neither team scored a point for over two minutes of play. With just over a minute of play left in the half, Terri Crawford converted on two free throws and cut the ACU lead to 23-22. A late foul sent ACU to the free-throw line where Kamryn Mraz made both of her free throws to give the Wildcats a 25-22 lead at the break.

UCA started the third with an 8-2 run and gave the Sugar Bears a 30-27 lead with 6:38 left in the quarter. It was a back-and-forth battle the remainder of the third as the teams traded baskets. The Wildcats hit a shot with just over a minute left in the period and took a 39-38 lead into the fourth.

Ibeh started the final quarter with a driving layup. Then on the defensive end, she blocked a shot and took the ball the length of the court for a fast-break layup and put UCA on top, 42-39. After a free throw by ACU, Lasker knocked down a jumper just inside the arc and extended the Sugar Bear lead to 44-40. Ayanna Trigg got position in the paint and made a layup. The Wildcats answered with a 6-0 run and tied the game at 46-46. Lasker drained a 3-pointer with 4:19 left in the game. ACU answered with a 3-pointer of its own and knotted the game up at 49-49. The Sugar Bears managed to gain a 56-52 lead with 1:46 left in regulation, before ACU rattled off five unanswered points and took a 57-56 advantage.

The Wildcats made one of two free-throw attempts and held a 58-56 lead with 26 seconds left in the game. After a missed layup, Ibeh drove for a loose ball and found an open Ayanna TriggAyanna Trigg was fouled hard on the play and was unable to shoot the free throws. Hannah Langhi subbed in for UCA and was unrattled by the pressure and made both free throws to tie the game, 58-58, with just nine seconds left in the game. Madi Miller managed to get open and made a layup with 0.8 seconds left on the clock to secure the 60-58 victory for the Wildcats.

Ibeh recorded her second-straight game with a double-double with a team-high 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Lasker chipped in with 12 points, one shy of tying her career high for UCA. Crawford tied a season-high 10 points. Briana Trigg posted a season-high four assists, which tied her career best, and notched eight points. Jayla Cody tied her career-best mark with two blocked shots, which was a game high. Walker posted a game-high two steals and tied a career best.

As a team, the Sugar Bears shot 43.1 percent from the field. UCA was strong on the glass as it held a 36-27 advantage in rebounds. Central Arkansas collected a season-high five blocks. The Sugar Bears had an advantage in points in the paint, 38-30. UCA’s bench outscored ACU’s bench, 20-4.

Alyssa Adams posted a game-high 22 points and added a team-high seven rebounds for the Wildcats. Mraz produced 17 points, 12 of which came from 3-point range. Anna McLeod and Miller finished tied with four assists.

The Sugar Bears return to action in Hammond, Louisiana, for a game with Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday, Jan. 27. The game is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. tip.

From the Coach – Head Coach Sandra Rushing
“I’m very proud of our effort today! I thought we played hard for 40 minutes! We just need to play smarter. Abilene is a very talented team and did a great job making us take the shots they wanted us to take. They made it very difficult for us to get into our offense. This loss really hurts me, my coaching staff, and our players. One or two more free throws, one or two more defensive stops, one or two more baskets in the paint, or a few less turnovers, and the outcome would have been different today. We are going to keep working and try to figure this out. We just have to keep fighting!”