|Updated: 1/25/2012 10:31 pm
||Published: 1/25/2012 10:30 pm
CONWAY — Another big second half, another win for Central Arkansas.
For the fourth straight game, the Sugar Bears had a decided second half-advantage to pull away from their opponent – this time outscoring Southeastern Louisiana 49-30 in the final period to score a 71-54 victory in Southland Conference play Wednesday night at the Farris Center.
The Sugar Bears (15-4, 5-1 Southland) trailed 24-22 at the half against the Lady Lions (5-13, 0-5), their third straight game to trail at the half, but once again turned up the intensity in the second half to pull out the win. The Sugar Bears have now outscored their last four opponents 176-100 – an average of 44-25.
"I tell you – every night in this league is going to be a war," said UCA head coach Matt Daniel, whose team remains perfect at home this season at 11-0. "I don't know if it takes us a half to figure it out or what the deal is, but we've been able to make the proper adjustments and so far it's allowed us to come out and be better (in the second half). It's a game of ebb and flow, and thank heaven for us it was more mountaintops than valleys."
After shooting just 30.8 in the first half, the Sugar Bears were red-hot in the second half as they hit 66.7 percent (16 of 24) from the field and were 80 percent (4 for 5) from the 3-point line. The major catalyst was junior forward Megan Herbert, who had 20 points in the second half en route to a game-high 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting (76.9 percent) to go along with nine rebounds.
"I thought she was more aggressive in the second half," Daniel said. "I thought she wasn't very aggressive in the first half. I thought we did a better job of getting it to her (in the second half), and I thought she was more hungry."
UCA wasted little time tying the game in the second half, needing just 19 seconds for Desiree' Rogers to hit a layup to tie it at 24. A couple moments later, Herbert gave the Sugar Bears the lead at 29-28 with 17:33, and UCA would not trail again.
Leading 33-31, the Sugar Bears went on a 13-5 run over a six-minute period to get their first double-digit lead with 9:49 to play. Leading seven with 7:19, UCA outscored SLU 11-4 over the next three minutes to go ahead 14 with under five minutes left to put the game in doubt for the Lady Lions.
SLU cut it to 10 with 2:29, but the Sugar Bears closed with the game's final seven points, all on free throws, to get their fourth straight conference victory.
"We had 10 turnovers in the first half, and only three in the second," Daniel said. "We got the ball where we needed to get it and we were more efficient at the rim. We were more aggressive and smarter in the second half defensively, and it kept us out of foul trouble. We defend pretty well. We were in some foul trouble in the first half and the flow was a little funky, but we survived and got through it."
Micah Rice and Nakeia Guiden each scored in double figures for UCA, with Rice posting 12 and Guiden 11. Courtney Duever had a game-high 10 rebounds for the Sugar Bears, and Desiree' Rogers added eight points and seven rebounds. Destinee Rogers had eight points, and had three assists to zero turnovers. Guiden led UCA with four assists.
"Our balance is starting to show," Daniel said. "I thought Britney Gowans gave us a good lift, Marci Moffitt did a good job off the bench, and you can see how it changes depending on what the game calls for. That's the beauty of our depth. It was just a good team effort ,a good team win."
Aja Gibson had 16 points to lead the Lady Lions, with 14 coming in the second half. Jessica Sommers and Brandi Simmons each had 10. Kelli Jenkins had seven assists.
The Sugar Bears host defending league champion McNeese State, the only remaining undefeated team in conference play at 6-0, Saturday at 2 p.m.