CONWAY The Central Arkansas women’s basketball team was hungry for its 11th consecutive victory and 15th in a row at home Wednesday night at the Farris Center.
A 55-percent shooting performance in the first half removed any doubt for the Sugar Bears.
Junior forward Megan Herbert finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, and senior guard Nakeia Guiden had a career-high 21 points as the Sugar Bears beat Nicholls State 67-47 in front of 1,631.
The Sugar Bears (22-4, 12-1 Southland Conference), who are 15-0 at home this season, can clinch a share of the Southland’s East Division and the No. 1 seed in the Southland Tournament with a victory Saturday at Southeastern Louisiana.The conference tournament is March 6-9 in Katy, Texas.
“I thought the team with the most energy would be the team that came out on top tonight, and that proved to be true,” said UCA Coach Matt Daniel, who coached the game barefoot to support Samaritan’s Feet, an organization that provides shoes to impoverished children throughout the world.
UCA shot 16 of 29 from the field in the first half on its way to a 38-18 halftime lead. Guiden, who became the 21st UCA player to reach 1,000 points, scored 15 points in the first half as the Sugar Bears took control early.
“It was a very big start for us,” Guiden said. “It was very intense. We tried to come out intense. We did very well in the first half.”
The Sugar Bears shot 50.9 percent (27 of 53) from the field, made 5 of 17 (29.4) three-pointers and outscored Nicholls 43-20 in the lane.
Nicholls (13-13, 6-7) was held to 28.6 percent (18 of 63) from the field and never led.
“They came out with a lot of energy,” Colonels Coach DoBee Plaisance said. “Matt does a great job. His team is so well-disciplined. I have a lot of respect for what he does here. They’re a really good team and they deserve to be in the position they’re in.”
The Sugar Bears jumped out to an 18-2 lead in the first 6:50. Guiden had nine of UCA’s 18 points during the opening run, including a three-pointer.
Nicholls cut the lead to 22-10 with 9:37 remaining in the half, but junior forward Westin Taylor hit two three-pointers to extend the lead to 28-10. It was 30-16 when UCA went on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 38-16 as Guiden and Herbert each scored four points in that stretch.
In the second half, UCA’s largest lead was 48-23 with 16:17 remaining.
UCA finishes the regular season with two of its final three games on the road, needing just one victory to clinch the conference’s top seed.
“I can’t hardly talk about it, because I get emotional about it,” said Daniel, who led the Sugar Bears to the final of the Southland Tournament last season. “We’ve got to go steal one on the road and take care of Southeastern. I’m just proud of this group right here.”Standings WEDNESDAY’S GAMES Sam Houston State 80, NW State 64 Central Arkansas 67, Nicholls State 47 Stephen F. Austin 61, Lamar 51 Texas-San Antonio 72,
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 58 Texas State 67, SE Louisiana 63 McNeese State 70, Texas-Arlington 50 SATURDAY’S GAMES - All times Central Central Arkansas at SE Louisiana, 3 p.m. Sam Houston State at Lamar, 2 p.m.
Texas-Arlington at NW State, 2 p.m.
Stephen F. Austin at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 2 p.m.
Texas-San Antonio at Texas State, 2 p.m. McNeese State at Nicholls State, 3:30 p.m.