CONWAY - Central Arkansas got a career-high from Courtney Duever, yet another double-double from Megan Herbert, and their best ball-control effort of the season on Saturday. Most importantly, they got back in the win column, defeating Southland Conference co-leader Sam Houston State 71-51 to snap a five-game losing streak.
The Sugar Bears (14-11, 7-7 Southland) took the lead five minutes into the game as part of a 19-3 run and never looked back - quickly distancing themselves from the Bearkats (13-12, 9-4) and building a lead as large as 26 as they scored their first win since a Jan. 26 overtime victory over Lamar.
"We played a good 38 minutes of basketball - almost 40," said UCA head coach Sandra Rushing. "I'm very happy and very proud of this team. I feel like we were more comfortable offensively with what we were trying to do. We weren't in too big a hurry, and I thought we made better decisions. And I thought our defense was really solid. We responded, and fought. I'm very proud of this basketball team."
Duever had 28 points and 10 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season, shooting 9 of 17 from the field and 10 of 13 at the free throw line. Herbert had 19 points and 13 rebounds to pick up the 79th double-double of her career, the third most ever by a Division I player. She moved into fourth on the Southland Conference career scoring list with 2,213, and needs just three rebounds to move into second in league history.
The Sugar Bears committed a season-low six turnovers, and had six steals while forcing the Bearkats into nine turnovers - which led to 13 UCA points. Sophomore Kelcia Bufkin logged 30 minutes, posting four points, three rebounds, two steals and a team-high four assists with no turnovers. Britney Gowans added 14 points, including going 4-of-5 from 3-point range, for her second highest-scoring effort of the season.
"Courtney had a really good game for us," Rushing said. "I thought Kelcia did a tremendous job of running point - I'm really pleased with her effort. It was an overall team effort."
Herbert - who leads the league in scoring and is second in rebounding, and Duever - who is third in rebounding and 10th in scoring, out-dueled their counterparts from Sam Houston State in Britni Martin (fourth in the league in scoring) and Sequeena Thomas (the league's leading rebounder). While Duever and Herbert combined for 47 points and 23 rebounds, Martin and Thomas were held to 24 and 18 with Thomas going for 14 and 14, and Martin being held to 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
The Sugar Bears will travel to Oral Roberts, which defeated Sam Houston State 90-40 on Thursday, next Tuesday. They will play their next three on the road, then return home for the regular season finale on March 9 against ORU.
Josh Goff: UCA Media Relations