Sandra Rushing sat in front of her laptop and watched the University of Central Arkansas women's basketball team earn a 27-15 halftime lead over Lamar on Saturday.
Then, she picked up her phone to call in the midgame adjustment.
UCA's sixth-year coach was with family in Mississippi. Her father had died Thursday.
Rushing had missed the team's conference openers against Texas A&M Corpus-Christi and Southeastern Louisiana, but she had managed to return for a 69-44 home victory last Wednesday.
She could not return Saturday, but she could call.
The players handed the phone around as Rushing's voice crackled forth the game plan.
UCA won 51-39, holding the Southland Conference's top scoring offense (82.3 points per game) to its fewest points since 2012. Rushing's program is 4-0 in the conference for the second consecutive season, and the players passed around the phone again after the game to speak with their coach.
"It's very tough," Rushing said. "I was close to my father. Always talked to him before the game and after the games. But, you have your responsibilities and your obligations also. I've got a great boss, Brad Teague, who's been very supportive ... and I had the right staff in place for a situation like this."
Associate coach Greg Long, who was an assistant on Rushing's former staff at Delta State, has stood in for Rushing.
"There's no playbook for this. For life," she said. "And, you know, now I have to figure it out."
Rushing said she will reunite with her team today in San Antonio, when UCA (11-4, 4-0 Southland) plays at Incarnate Word (3-11, 2-1) at 6 p.m.
"I'll be excited to see the team," she said. "Be back on the sideline. [Tonight], I expect to win for sure and play some good basketball."
The UCA men's team stopped a two-game losing streak with a double-overtime, 100-91 victory at Lamar on Saturday.
Freshman point guard DeAndre Jones recorded a triple-double in his first career start, with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Senior guard Jordan Howard made 3 three-pointers to become the Southland Conference's all-time leading three-point shooter (332), surpassing McNeese State's Demond Mallett's 331 (1997-2001).
The Bears host Incarnate Word tonight at 7 p.m.
At home, finally
After two months since the start of the season, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff men's basketball team finally will play its first home game.
The 17-game road trip -- that included the states of California, Hawaii, Oregon and Ohio -- started with a 14-game losing streak and ended with a 3-0 start in Southwestern Athletic Conference play.
In UAPB's victories at Alabama State, Alabama A&M and Mississippi Valley State, the Golden Lions (3-14, 3-0 SWAC) were shooting 51.3 percent from the field. It's a stark improvement from the losing streak, when UAPB shot just 39.7 percent against opponents such as SMU, Oregon State and Cincinnati.
UAPB Coach George Ivory said there wasn't much time for adjustments on the road.
"Playing so many games back to back, you don't always get a full practice with all the team," Ivory said. "So during the break, we started getting a lot of time.
"It's tough. And I like the character of our young men. They don't complain. They just work. We know our ultimate goal is to win a conference tournament. That's on their mind, that regular-season championship, right now."
UAPB has not won the SWAC Tournament since 2010, when the Golden Lions defeated Winthrop 61-44 in a First Four game in Dayton, Ohio, to earn a No. 16 seed. They lost 73-44 to No. 1 Duke in the next game.
The Golden Lions started 3-0 in SWAC play last year, then won only three of their next 15.
This season, UAPB's first three conference opponents had a combined record of 3-40. Half of the teams in the SWAC entered conference play winless.
UAPB's next three opponents -- Southern, Alcorn State and Prairie View A&M -- were in the winning half and have a combined record of 14-37.
UAPB junior guard Martaveous McKnight was named the SWAC's Player of the Week on Tuesday after recording 29 points in a 69-62 victory over Alabama A&M on Saturday. He scored 24 points while adding 9 assists and 6 rebounds in Monday's 94-68 victory over Alabama State.
The UAPB women's team has lost two consecutive games after starting SWAC play with a 64-59 victory over Mississippi Valley State on Jan. 1.
The Golden Lions (3-10, 1-2) have the conference's top scoring defense (55.5 points allowed per game) since starting SWAC play, but their scoring offense (56.5) ranks eighth out of 10 teams.
Collier to return
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock women's team has started 4-0 in Sun Belt Conference play for the second consecutive season, and the Trojans have beaten their conference opponents by an average of 25 points.
UALR (7-8, 4-0 Sun Belt) will host the Sun Belt's preseason favorite, Texas-Arlington, on Thursday. The Mavericks (8-7, 2-2) lost 76-63 to South Alabama on Saturday.
Trojans sophomore guard Kyra Collier (North Little Rock) is expected to return this weekend from her ankle injury, which she suffered before the LSU game Dec. 20.
The UALR men's team has lost two consecutive games after its 71-62 home victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Dec. 31.
The Trojans (4-13, 1-3) also host Texas-Arlington, which is also the Sun Belt men's preseason favorite, on Thursday. UALR's scoring offense (63.1 per game) and scoring margin (-5.8) both rank last in the conference.
The Arkansas State University women's team has won two consecutive games to keep pace in a three-way tie for second place in the Sun Belt Conference.
ASU (8-7, 3-1 Sun Belt) has won its conference games by an average of 13.3 points, and the Red Wolves lost to Louisiana-Lafayette 77-75 on Dec. 31.
The team will host Texas State on Thursday, and the next victory will tie its conference victory total from last season, when the Red Wolves finished 7-25.
The ASU men's team has lost three consecutive games since its 75-64 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Dec. 29 and will host Texas State on Thursday.
The Red Wolves (6-11, 1-3) have led at halftime in only five games, and their scoring defense (76.9 points allowed per game) ranks last in the Sun Belt.
Sports on 01/10/2018
Print Headline: Rushing coaches by phone