NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - The Southland Conference semifinal against Central Arkansas proved to be the toughest test the SFA Ladyjacks have had in 2021.
The Ladyjacks beat the Sugar Bears 55-47 to advance to Sunday’s Southland Conference Championship game. Leading by only three, Sophmore guard Zya Nugent hit a three pointer from the top of the key to secure the lead for good with just 22 seconds left.
“That was the biggest shot of my career. I can say that,” Nugent said during the postgame press conference. “Those are just moments you live for. You dream about moments like that. Honestly I was like, ‘I have to get this one. I got to get this one. I am glad I got it and I feel good about that.”
The Ladyjacks were led in scoring by senior, and former Tyler High School Lady Lion, Aylssa Mayfield. Mayfield had 16 points with 14 of those in the first half.
“She has been here for four years and has dreamed of this moment,” SFA head coach Mark Kellogg said. “She did what she does. She was finding the holes in that zone. She was cutting through it. We were not calling her number or anything. She just did a fantastic job of finishing and finding the ball at the rim.
The win pushes SFA’s winning streak to 18 and shows how tough the conference tournament can be for a team with a double-bye. SFA had not won by single digits since a 71-66 win over Virginia Commonwealth on November 26. Now the team will look to win their 16th Southland Conference Tournament Championship on Sunday at 1 p.m. It would be their first since 2006. They have never won the event in Katy. This is their last chance with the team moving to the Western Athletic Conference next season.
“We need to be in close games to see what that moment feels like,” Kellogg said. “We haven’t felt that since December when we had that close loss at Houston that came down to the last possession. That is really the least game that has been close in the fourth quarter. We needed that. I don’t think we played great (and) I think we can play better than that, but we’ll be better because of this.”
A win on Sunday would give the Ladyjacks an automatic berth in the NCAA Women’s National Tournament.