UCA women seek to avenge men’s Philander Smith loss

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A shot at redemption bounces UCA's way

On November 16, the UCA Bears fell to an NAIA team, 97-90.

When it comes to low points of a nascent head coaching career, it will be hard to top this one for Corliss Williamson, the former Razorbacks star now entering the conference portion of his second year at the helm of a Division I school.

“Philander Smith had a great game,” says UCA Sugar Bear Megan Herbert, who attended the game. “They outplayed us, they outhustled us, they basically outworked us. Nothing against the men’s team, but Philander wanted to win that game.”

If there is any silver lining in that loss for UCA athletics, it reminds the women’s team to not take any win for granted. Instead, it motivates the reigning Southland Conference player of the year: “The men shouldn’t have lost that game, and now that we get to play them, we shouldn’t lose. So, I think there’s inspiration to go out there and show them really what UCA basketball is all about.”

After losing to Philander, the Bears won five consecutive game, then lost four in a row. At times, its young players seem to be auditioning for the lead roles in a Southland Conference Theatre rendition of “Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.”

The women have been more consistent. They have lost only three games and only one of those losses (UMKC – Summit League) came against a team that wasn’t from a high D1 conference. In order for the Sugar Bears to take another step toward becoming a mid-major power, the program must win a Southland Conference and advance to the NCAA Touranment.
For that to happen, it needs to build momentum throughout the conference schedule.

That means, like in the past couple seasons, consistently winning at home – by springing upsets against the likes of Alabama and Indiana … and avoiding them against the Philander Smiths of the world.

Exacting revenge against Philander is “in our head,” says freshman Sharlay Burris. “We owe them one.”

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   Faulkner County may be a dry county, but wet’s the word on the video room wall of its best women’s basketball team.
There, on a board, Sugar Bear coaches lay out goals for their players and their chart progress on a game-to-game basis. Raindrops signify a goal was accomplished, while writing in black means the goal was nearly done.  The numbers in red mean there was a lot of work left undone. 

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