THIBODAUX, LA — Central Arkansas dug itself a 21-point hole in the first half at Nicholls and, despite a hearty comeback effort, came up short in Thibodaux on Thursday as they fell 53-43 to the Colonels.
With the loss, the Sugar Bears (17-12, 10-7 Southland) will be unable to catch the Colonels (16-12, 12-5) for third place in the league standings and enter the regular season finale at McNeese State locked in a battle for the 4th seed and first-round bye in next week’s Southland Conference Tournament in Katy, Texas.
Nicholls quickly jumped on the Sugar Bears in first half, getting out to an early 11-4 lead and steadily increasing its lead throughout the first period – building a lead as large as 21 points until the Sugar Bears finished out the half with an 8-0 run to go into the locker room down 33-20.
The Sugar Bears chipped away at the Colonel lead and eventually cut it to as little as four on a Kendara Watts layup with 2:37 left to make it 47-43, but were held scoreless the rest of the way as they misfired on both their field goal attempts in the final minutes and committed the last two of their 21 turnovers, while the Colonels converted their final six free throws to pull away.
The 43 points is the fewest for the Sugar Bears since scoring 37 in a loss at Houston Baptist on Jan. 15, and the 21 turnovers is their most since committing 29 in a 73-46 loss to Stephen F. Austin on Jan. 18.
The Sugar Bears held to just one free throw attempt in the game while the Colonels were 10 of 14 from the line. UCA was also just 2 of 13 (15.4 percent) from 3-point range, and shot just 37.7 percent (20 of 53) from the field. The Colonels shot 48.3 percent in the first half but cooled off considerably in the second, making just 20.8 as they finished the game at 35.8 percent.
Kendara Watts led UCA with 10 points, with Kelsey McClure adding 9. Maggie Proffitt had 7 points and a game-high 8 rebounds, also adding a pair of blocks and steals along with one assist. The Sugar Bears had only four assists total, including just one in the first half. Nicholls got 11 points from Tia Charles. Jenny Nash had 8 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists for the Colonels.
The Sugar Bears will conclude their regular season at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Lake Charles, La., taking on McNeese State, which is also 10-7 in conference play. The Cowgirls won the season’s first meeting 65-63 in Conway.