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ABILENE, TX – One team has already secured a berth in the 2020 Southland Conference Tournament while the other is still fighting for a spot in the field.

The University of Central Arkansas Bears face the Abilene Christian Wildcats in SLC action at 3:30 Saturday at Moody Coliseum, still looking to secure their fourth straight berth in the tournament field. UCA is 9-8 in league play with three games remaining. The Bears are currently tied with Northwestern State for sixth place, with the top eight teams advancing to the tournament, which begins March 11 at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas.

UCA finishes out the season with a road game at Southeastern Louisiana next Wednesday, then at home for Senior Day on Saturday, March 7 against Northwestern State. UCA beat both of those teams in the first meetings this season.

The Wildcats (18-10, 13-4), in second place in the SLC standings, beat the Bears 70-69 in overtime back on January 25 at the Farris Center. ACU overcame a 13-point deficit and sent the game to overtime when guard Payten Ricks was fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining. In overtime, the Bears led 69-68 after senior Aaron Weidenaar’s second three-pointer but Ricks drove the lane and scored the game winner with 3.4 seconds left.

Junior guard Rylan Bergersen led the Bears with 16 points, while junior center Hayden Koval had a career-high 13 rebounds and 7 blocked shots. Weidenaar finished with a career-high 14 points as one of four Bears in double figures. Ricks had 24 points for the Wildcats, who made 11 of 28 from three-point range. UCA won the rebound battle 48-30, including 14 offensive rebounds.

The Bears enter the game off one of their best performances of the season, an 84-65 victory over third-place Nicholls last Saturday at the Farris Center. UCA had an open date on Wednesday. Against the Colonels, Bergersen scored a career-high 25 points and sophomore Eddy Kayouloud chipped in 21 points and 7 rebounds. Junior forward Jared Chatham earned his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

UCA enjoyed a 41-18 halftime lead, its biggest of the season, after shooting 53.8 percent from the field, and outrebounded Nicholls by a whopping 48-21 margin. The Bears also went 23 of 27 (85.2 percent) from the free-throw line.

ACU is also coming off a big victory, an 85-69 win over Sam Houston State, which is in fourth place in the conference. That victory secured the WIldcats at least a top four finish and top four seed in the tournament, which comes with a first-round bye.

The Wildcats are led by senior guard Payten Ricks, who averages 14.8 points per game and shoots 38.2 percent from three-point range and 83.6 percent from the free-throw line. Bergersen leads the Bears at 15.3 points per game (eighth in the SLC) and averages a team-high 33.4 minutes per game (fourth in the SLC). Koval, a 7-foot junior center, is fifth in the conference in rebounding (7.7 per game) and leads the league in blocked shots (3.1 per game).