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Caicedo, UALR sting Vanderbilt

by JEFF KRUPSAW SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | December 6, 2020 at 2:16 a.m.
UALR guard Mayra Caicedo drives to the basket Saturday during the Trojans’ 82-74 victory over Vanderbilt at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock. Caicedo scored 14 points and had a school-record 14 assists in the victory. (Photo courtesy UALR Athletics)

Three-point shooting is not why Mayra Caicedo was recruited to play point guard for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock women's basketball team.

Caicedo's primary offensive responsibility is getting others to score, and she did it expertly Saturday, handing out a school-record 14 assists in UALR's 82-74 victory over Vanderbilt at the Stephens Center.

She also showed she can do more than distribute the ball to her teammates.

It was Caicedo, a 5-4 transfer from New Mexico Junior College, who stepped up as a scorer in the final minute of the third quarter after the Commodores had cut a 21-point deficit to five for the fourth time.

It didn't matter to Caicedo that her other attempt from behind the three-point line in the first half was an air ball. She was open, her teammates were covered, and the shot clock was running down.

"I hesitated a little bit," Caicedo said. "I just said to myself, 'I've got to hit it.' "

She did, swishing a three-point attempt to put UALR up 59-51 with 51 seconds left in the quarter. She finished off the period with a steal and drove for a layup to restore UALR's lead to 61-51 heading into the fourth quarter.

"I feel like I did a pretty good job right there," she said.

Caicedo, who finished with 14 points, 14 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals, hit 3 of 4 free throws in the fourth quarter, but mostly went back to getting the ball to her teammates.

Bre'Amber Scott (28 points, 9 in the fourth quarter) and Brianna Crane (23 points, 9 in the fourth quarter) were the beneficiaries.

"She's a double-double machine," Scott said of Caicedo, who had 10 points and 10 assists in Tuesday's victory at Memphis. "She's a great point guard, man.

"She not only does it on the offensive end, she does it on the defensive end. It starts with her every night."

UALR Coach Joe Foley said Caicedo's fearless play, especially the nerve it took to try a second three-pointer after missing the rim on her first attempt, is her biggest attribute.

"She's just got the heart to do it," Foley said. "You don't always play the percentages. Sometimes, you play the heart."

The Trojans never let the Commodores get closer than seven points in the fourth quarter.

The victory was UALR's first over an SEC team since 2015, when it defeated Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament. The 82 points were the most the Trojans have scored against an SEC opponent.

UALR (2-1) has won back-to-back games after falling to Rice 66-54 in the season opener a week earlier, a game during which the Trojans made 20 of 72 shots from the field (27.8%).

The Trojans improved to 42.9% at Memphis, then shot 50.8% Saturday. They made 30 of 59, including 5 of 14 three-point attempts, and 17 of 24 from the free-throw line.

Caicedo and Foley said the Trojans stumbled a bit when Vanderbilt Coach Stephanie White called timeout with UALR leading 30-9 with 8:26 to play in the first half.

The Commodores (0-1) switched to a zone defense and outscored UALR 17-2 to make it 32-26 in a span of 3:04. UALR went into halftime up 41-34 after a Scott layup with 30 seconds to play.

UALR made the first basket of the second half to go up nine, but Vanderbilt pulled within 43-38 on a layup by Enna Pehadzic (17 points) with 8:11 to play in the third.

Koi Love led Vanderbilt with 24 points and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes. Chelsie Hall added 16 for the Commodores, who were making their season debut after having three games canceled because of coronavirus concerns.

UALR rebuilt its lead to 54-40 with 4:34 to go in the third, but Vanderbilt once again cut it to five points, 56-51, with 2:06 to play in the third.

That's when Caicedo went on her personal 5-0 run to close the third quarter.

"I thought that was huge," Foley said. "It got us rolling again."

Scott, a transfer from Mississippi State, knows what it's like to play and beat SEC teams.

"It's definitely going to give us confidence," said Scott, who spent three seasons playing for Mississippi State before transferring to UALR.

The Trojans will need it.

Next up is 12th-ranked Texas A&M on Thursday in Little Rock, then another home game.

SOUTHLAND WOMEN

KANSAS STATE 47,

CENTRAL ARKANSAS 33

Lucy Ibeh scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough as the University of Central Arkansas (1-3) fell in its home opener to Kansas State (2-1) on Saturday.

The two teams struggled offensively in the first half. UCA shot 11.1% from the floor in the first quarter and 14.3% in the second quarter while holding Kansas State to 30% and 22.7%, respectively. Despite the poor shooting, the Wildcats held an 18-12 halftime lead.

Ibeh opened the second half with two layups to cut the lead to 18-16 with 6:40 left in the third quarter, but Kansas State pushed its advantage to 28-20 with 3:17 remaining. UCA took a 29-28 lead late in the quarter on two free throws from Hannah Langhi and a three-pointer from Romola Dominguez. Kansas State responded with a three-pointer of its own and led 31-29 going into the fourth quarter.

Ibeh tied the game at 31-31 with a layup early in the fourth, but the Wildcats went on a 12-0 run to put the game away.

The Wilcats outscored the Sugar Bears in the lane (18-14) and off the bench (22-19) while holding a 40-37 rebounding advantage.

Terri Crawford had a season-high 10 points for UCA. Taylor Lauterbach led Kansas State with 9 points, a game-high 12 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.

"I thought our effort was good, but I didn't like our focus," UCA Coach Sandra Rushing said. "We can say we're a young team, but we're not a young team. We're just hard-headed at times. However, we got through that and that's why you play the nonconference portion of the schedule."

This was just the third time a Power 5 conference team made the trip to the Farris Center in Conway.

SWAC MEN

Saint Louis 107,

Ark.-Pine Bluff 54

Javonte Perkins, Hasahn French and Jordan Goodwin scored 15 points apiece as Saint Louis easily defeated UAPB in St. Louis.

French also had six assists, while Goodwin posted seven rebounds. Gibson Jimerson had 12 points for Saint Louis (3-0).

Shaun Doss had 23 points for the Golden Lions (0-5). Nicholas Jones added 12 points.

Markedric Bell, who was second on the Golden Lions in scoring coming into the matchup with nine points per game, failed to make a shot from the floor (0 of 6).

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