Ladyjacks take first-round game

From the SFA Sports Information Department

KATY, Texas - The No. 7 Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks led buzzer-to-buzzer in a thrilling 64-59 victory over the No. 6 Central Arkansas Sugar Bears in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament at the Merrell Center Wednesday afternoon.

Sophomore center Porsha Roberts, who earlier this week was named to the All-SLC Second Team and SLC All-Defensive Team, scored a team-high 18 points 13 of which came in the critical second half. Sophomore forward Tierany Henderson also scored in double-figures with 12 points and made two clutch three-pointers in the second half.

UCA was led in scoring by the three-time SLC Player of the Year Megan Herbert, who scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds but was limited to only five points in the first half and had four turnovers.

With the win the Ladyjacks (14-16, 8-10) move on to the second round of the SLC Tournament to face the No. 3 Lamar Lady Cardinals on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. SFA went 0-2 against Lamar during the regular season, including a 61-55 loss in Beaumont in their last meeting back on Feb. 2.

SFA built a comfortable lead in the second half due in large part to hot shooting from beyond the perimeter. The inside-outside game of Roberts and Henderson worked to SFA's advantage early and the duo scored the team's first 16 points (8 apiece) of the second half. The Ladyjacks held a lead as big as 45-35 with 11:40 left in the game when Ashlee Mells sank a three-pointer from the right wing.

The Ladyjacks maintained a 57-50 lead with just 2:56 remaining but UCA (15-15, 8-10) went on a 9-3 run over the next two minutes to cut the deficit to 60-59 with 1:05 to go following a Jameka Watkins three-point play. UCA then forced an SFA turnover and had a chance to take the lead but Tracey Parsons traveled with 18 seconds remaining and was forced to send SFA to the free throw line.

SFA's KK Jerrell proceeded to sink both free throws to push the lead to 62-59 leaving UCA one last chance to tie the game but a Herbert three-point attempt rattled out and Roberts made two more free throws with just a second remaining to seal the win.

The Ladyjacks never trailed in the first half and held a lead as big as 26-19 before entering the locker room with a 26-23 halftime advantage.

In the opening 20 minutes the Ladyjacks got a big boost off the bench from junior forward Antionette Carter, who led all scorers with eight points in just 10 minutes on 4-of-7 shooting from the field. Carter was a big reason why SFA held a 16-4 advantage in points in the paint in the first 20 minutes.

Defensively in the first half the Ladyjacks frustrated Herbert, who scored just five points on 2-of-4 shooting and also had four turnovers. SFA forced UCA into 14 turnovers and was able to convert those into 10 points.