UCA ends Wildcats' first-ever Southland Conference tournament run in the quarterfinals

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Scoring didn’t come easy for either team in Friday’s Southland Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game between Central Arkansas and Abilene Christian. The difference was that the Sugar Bears had Taylor Baudoin.

Baudoin scored 20 points as No. 3 Central Arkansas captured a hard-fought 54-41 win over No. 7 Abilene Christian, ending the Wildcats first-ever Southland Conference tournament trip.

“I thought Abilene took it to us. It didn’t show they had a game (Thursday),” said Central Arkansas coach Sandra Rushing.

Despite shooting 41 percent from the field and committing 18 turnovers, the Sugar Bears (22-8) clamped down on the Wildcats (16-14), holding them to 32.6 percent shooting one day after ACU scored 88 points in a win over New Orleans. Sporting the second-best scoring defense in the nation, Central Arkansas held the Wildcats to 3-for-13 shooting from beyond the arc while not allowing more than 14 points in a quarter.

Abilene Christian was limited to only 43 field goal attempts, including just six in the second quarter as they went into the intermission trailing 28-19. The Wildcats had their best offensive spurt of the game at the start of the third quarter behind the shooting of Breanna Wright, whose three-pointer at the 6:44 mark pulled the deficit to 31-26.

It would be as close as ACU would reach. A basket from Baudoin was followed by a pair of free throws from Kierra Jordan before Baudoin added another basket to give the Sugar Bears breathing room at 39-28 with 2:25 in the quarter.

Trailing 43-33 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Wildcats attempted one last push at the Sugar Bears and trimmed the deficit to 45-39 after Lexi Kirgan’s basket with 8:08 left. Central Arkansas’ defense finally slammed the door by holding Abilene Christian without a basket for more than five minutes. Baudoin and Jordan teamed up to score the first six points for the Sugar Bears but it was Angel Williams’ trey with 48 seconds left that sealed the deal.

“Playing half-court (defense) is what we do,” said Jordan, who had 14 points and seven rebounds along with two blocked shots. “Half-court is what is going to carry us through the tournament.”

“Today was almost like a knockdown, drag out,” said ACU coach Julie Goodenough. “It was like neither team was going to score much. I was proud of our defensive effort, but offensively, we just couldn’t get it going.

The Wildcats end the tournament and season at 16-14, but the year may not be over just yet. ACU will await a possible invite to the Women's Basketball Invitational, or WBI.

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