CONWAY -- Senior Savanna Walker's layup with 3.2 seconds left lifted the University of Central Arkansas over Southeastern Louisiana 44-43 on Wednesday at the Farris Center.
"Savanna Walker played really well," UCA assistant coach Jason Conner said. "She was a leader for us today, and that shot to win it was well earned."
Conner filled in for Coach Sandra Rushing, who was absent due to a family illness, and led UCA (11-12, 9-6 Southland) to its eighth victory in 10 games.
The Sugar Bears' 6-0 first-quarter lead was the largest for either team in a game that saw 28 lead changes.
The Lions (10-7, 9-5) entered in second place in the Southland Conference and held a late advantage when senior Breonca Ducksworth hit a pair of free throws to give Southeastern Louisiana a 43-42 lead with 24 seconds remaining.
"[Southeastern Louisiana] might be the most talented team in the league," Conner said. "This was a good win for this program."
Walker finished with 7 points to go with 3 assists, 4 steals and 1 turnover. UCA shot 41.9% and was led from the field by junior Lucy Ibeh, who scored a team-high 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Senior Brianna Trigg pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
Lions senior Caitlyn Williams finished with a game-high 14 points, followed by fellow senior Morgan Carrier with 11.
Brianna Trigg's mid-range bank shot put UCA up 12-7 in the closing minute of the first quarter before Ducksworth scored as time expired to bring the score to 12-9.
Ibeh began the second quarter with a steal and fast-break finish. The Sugar Bears led 18-15 on another score from Brianna Trigg with 5:59 remaining, but they failed to hit another field for the rest of the half.
Carrier scored eight of her 11 points in the second quarter, and Southeastern Louisiana led 22-21 at the half.
"We started out with pretty good energy, but we didn't keep it up in the middle of the game," Conner said.
UCA sophomore Terri Crawford scored four of her five points in the third quarter when the Sugar Bears had a 29-26. The Lions closed the gap with inside finishes from Ducksworth and Williams, and UCA entered the final period with a 31-30 lead.
Williams thrust Southeastern Louisiana to a 34-33 lead before Walker sprinted coast to coast, finished through contact and completed a three-point play from the foul line, handing UCA a 36-34 lead with 7:52 to play.
The teams traded the lead for the final 7:33, and the Lions jumped ahead on Carrier's three-pointer with 1:28 remaining for a 41-40 lead.
Ayanna Trigg restored the Sugar Bears' advantage with a layup on the next possession, but she fouled Ducksworth with 24 second left before Walker's heroics handed UCA a third consecutive victory.
CENTRAL ARKANSAS 88,
SE LOUISIANA 71
Rylan Bergersen scored 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting as the University of Central Arkansas won for the second time in three games, beating Southeastern Louisiana at the Farris Center in Conway.
UCA (5-18, 4-11) held a 43-29 lead at the half, then connected on 16 of 26 (61.5%) from the floor in the second half to knock off Southeastern Louisiana (7-16, 5-9).
Eddy Kayouloud added 19 points, Jared Chatham put in 16 points and Collin Cooper came off the bench to put in 12 points for the Bears. Kayouloud and Chatham each grabbed nine rebounds for UCA. Khaleem Bennett led UCA in assists with seven.
Nick Caldwell led Southeastern Louisiana with 16 points.
UCA finished 32 of 68 (50.8%) from the floor and 13 of 23 (56.5%) on three-pointers. Southeastern Louisiana went 27 of 62 (43.5%) from the floor and 8 of 20 (40%) on three-pointers.
Central Arkansas held a 43-25 advantage on the boards and outscored Southeastern Louisiana 36-30 in the paint.