|Updated: 11/16/2011 8:55 am
||Published: 11/16/2011 8:53 am
CONWAY, AR — For the second consecutive game, Central Arkansas drew more than 3,000 fans into the Farris Center for a game with a major-conference opponent. And for the second consecutive game, Central Arkansas won going away – winning 58-46, for the second consecutive game.
After disposing of the Indiana Hoosiers on Friday, the Sugar Bears followed it up by defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide by an identical score on Tuesday in front of 3,320 raucous fans at the Farris Center.
"The thing we're establishing here, it's becoming one of the toughest places to play in the nation in women's college basketball," said fourth-year UCA head coach Matt Daniel, who picked up his 50th win at the school. "But we have to continue to grow it. We haven't played a great game of basketball yet, but we do have a great environment. The test comes not only for our team, but for our community as well, on Monday night. Are they coming to watch our opponent, or are they coming to watch us and cheer us on? I hope that we double this thing on Monday and fill the whole place up vs. Paul Quinn."
After Alabama (1-1) took an 11-10 lead late in the first, half the Sugar Bears (2-0) answered with a layup by sophomore center Courtney Duever and never relinquished it – leading the entire way over the final 26:38.
Junior forward Megan Herbert, who had game highs of 17 points and 18 rebounds to lead UCA, converted a three-point play with 7:23 left to push the Sugar Bears lead to 10, 44-34, and the Crimson Tide never drew closer than eight the rest of the way.
"It took all of us," said Herbert, who recorded her 48th career double-double. "All the coaches, the girls playing, everybody on the bench screaming, and the crowd that was absolutely amazing. Two straight games this many people have been out to support our program and that's really big for us. We knew the plays, knew what was coming, and we were coming out here to try to protect our home court."
The Sugar Bears won despite shooting just 28.8 percent (17 of 59) from the floor and 8.7 percent (2 of 23) from 3-point range.
The poor shooting was offset by a number of factors, including forcing 24 Alabama turnovers; winning the rebounding battle 48-38; and outscoring the Tide 22-3 at the free throw line.
"I don't feel like we played well either night, but we've been able to lock down defensively and come away with wins," Daniel said. "We didn't play well on offense, but if you can lock in and guard, you've got a shot every night. I might question our decision-making sometimes, or our focus, but not our toughness. We're pretty tough, and we've held two straight opponents under 50 points and it's kind of unique it was 46 both times. I think these two wins are monumental for our program in the big picture, but in the immediate future we're just 2-0 and have to immediately move on. Now's not the time to celebrate and hang out. There will be time for that later, but right now we have to move on to Paul Quinn."
Junior guard Nakeia Guiden had 14 points and again led the team with three steals, while Duever narrowly missed a double-double – scoring 11 points while hauling in nine rebounds.
Jasmine Robinson led Alabama with 13 points, while Kyra Crosby had 11 and Meghan Perkins added 10.
The win avenges the Sugar Bears' 87-76 loss to the Tide in Tuscaloosa last season, and marks the program's first win over an SEC opponent.