(Photo Courtesy: UCA Athletics)
CONWAY, Ark. (UCA) - Central Arkansas outscored Northwestern State by 14 in the second half, pulling away from the Lady Demons for a 73-61 victory in the Farris Center on Thursday. Coupled with an Oral Roberts win over Stephen F. Austin, the win puts the Sugar Bears in sole possession of first place in the Southland Conference.
"I'm happy with the way we came out in the second half," said UCA head coach Sandra Rushing. "The first half went like I thought it would - defensively we had to figure out how to stop their runs and they're a very good team. But in the second half we took better shots, and going 21 of 26 at the free throw line was huge. I'm proud of this team and happy with this victory."
After trailing 29-27 at the half, the Sugar Bears (11-6, 5-1 Southland) opened the second half with an 11-2 run to gain control of the game and shot 60.9 percent in the half en route to 46 points in the period as they scored their highest point total in Southland play of the season and third-most in 25 Southland games under Rushing.
Freshman guard Brianna Mullins scored 17 of her team-high 23 points in the second half, and senior center Courtney Duever - who had her seventh double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds - had 13 and 7 in the second period. Freshman guard Maggie Proffitt had eight points in the half and Micah Rice added six, with the Sugar Bears hitting all four of their 3-point attempts in the half. In all, they were 6 of 13 (46.2 percent) beyond the arc. Proffitt and Rice each finished with 11.
"It was good to see us with four players in double figures tonight," Rushing said. "Brianna did an outstanding job, and our seniors did a great job - Micah played 36 minutes and Courtney played 40, and that was big for us. And I also thought Jameka Watkins had an excellent defensive game and played her role well tonight."
Northwestern State was led by senior forward Trudy Armstead, who posted a game-high 29 points - with 17 coming in the first half. Janelle Perez added 11 and Keisha Lee 10 for the Lady Demons, who fall for the third straight season in the Farris Center.
The Sugar Bears have now won six of their last seven, and will be aiming for their fourth consecutive win on Saturday when the Ladyjacks (10-8, 4-2) visit the Farris Center.
"It's a quick turnaround," Rushing said. "We can't really enjoy this victory because we've got SFA coming in on Saturday needing a win. They're a talented team and we know that's going to be a tough challenge for us, but one we need to get as we're fighting and working toward something."