The University of Central Arkansas' women's basketball team lost its final five regular season games but sneaked into the Southland Conference Tournament anyway.
"When we lost the last five ballgames and still had the opportunity to go to the tournament, how does that happen?" UCA Coach Sandra Rushing said Wednesday.
The Sugar Bears finished the regular season at 11-17 overall and 6-12 against the Southland, which Rushing said made for a "disappointing year."
After a 78-74 regular-season finale loss at Northwestern State, UCA's postseason hopes were dim.
But Houston Baptist upset Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday, and a series of tiebreakers went into action that allowed UCA to qualify for the Southland Tournament with the 8 seed.
"It's a new life," Rushing said. "Our energy is there. We know we have another chance. When we lost to Northwestern, the season was over -- that was our understanding.
"But when I told them on our bus, there were some happy girls on that bus, along with a happy coach, I can promise you."
UCA will meet No. 5 seed Sam Houston State at 11 a.m. Central today at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas. Sam Houston State has defeated the Sugar Bears twice this season, including a 66-62 victory Jan. 9 in Huntsville, Texas, and a 71-59 victory March 6 in Conway.
"They're very aggressive," Rushing said. "They hit the offensive boards, and they get to the rim. The biggest thing is they're really aggressive and physical."
The winner of UCA and Sam Houston State will advance to meet No. 4 seed Abilene Christian at 11 a.m. Friday in the second round.
"To have the opportunity to make the tournament is huge for our program," Rushing said.
UCA women vs. Sam Houston State
WHAT Southland Conference Tournament
WHEN 11 a.m. Central today
WHERE Merrell Center, Katy, Texas
RECORDS UCA 11-17, 6-12 Southland Conference; Sam Houston State 16-12, 11-7
SERIES UCA leads 14-5.
RADIO KUCA-FM, 91.3, in Conway
61.3 Points for 74.6
58.6 Points against 68.1
+0.4 Rebound margin +2.6
+2.1 Turnover margin +2.8
38.8 FG pct. 42.0
29.6 3-pt pct. 30.3
69.7 FT pct. 71.4
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
POS. NAME, HT, YR PPG RPG
G Kamry Orr, 5-6, Sr. 15.6 4.4
G Maddie Goodner, 5-7, Jr. 3.9 1.7
F Hannah Langhi, 6-2, So. 6.6 4.4
F Alana Canady, 5-11, Fr. 6.3 2.9
F Alanie Fisher, 5-8, Sr. 5.6 4.5
COACH Sandra Rushing (543-332 overall)
SAM HOUSTON STATE
G Jaylonn Walker, 5-7, Jr. 15.3 3.3
G Jennifer Oramas, 5-5, Jr. 12.8 2.8
G Dominique Maxwell, 5-9, Sr. 8.1 4.9
F Amber Leggett, 5-11, Fr. 12.3 4.7
C Kiera McKinney, 6-2, Jr. 3.6 2.3
COACH Ravon Justice (44-46 overall)
CHALK TALK Sam Houston State defeated UCA twice this season: 66-62 on Jan. 9 at SHSU and 71-59 on March 6 in Conway. …UCA is 1-0 all-time in the Southland Tournament vs. SHSU
Sports on 03/14/2019
Print Headline: Sugar Bears happy for new life after 5-game losing skid