Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 1:52 PM
CONWAY, Ark. — Every time it looks like McNeese State is down this basketball season, the Cowgirls bounce back.
McNeese won at Central Arkansas for the first time ever on Thursday night, beating the Sugar Bears 77-61.
UCA’s 22-game home winning streak, the third-longest in the country, was snapped. The Sugar Bears (12-6, 5-2 Southland) had not lost at home since March 2011, when they fell to Alabama-Birmingham in the Women’s Basketball Invitational.
McNeese (9-9, 4-3) shook off a Saturday home loss to Lamar by doing what it could not against the Cardinals — dominating in the paint.
Forward Cecilia Okoye led the Cowgirls with a career-high 21 points as McNeese finished with 48 points in the paint.
“The kid’s shooting 56 percent. We talked about going to her more on offense,” Cowgirls coach Brooks Donald Williams said. “That really opened it up for everybody else. I’m so proud of everybody, really.”
Okoye was 10 of 13 from the field and grabbed five rebounds. She was one of five Cowgirls to score in double figures. Caitlyn Baggett scored 18, Ashlyn Baggett chipped in 14. Jayln Johnson ended with 12 and Alaina Verdin had 10.
For the second time this season the Cowgirls shot 50 percent or better from the field and scored 20 points off fast breaks.
The Cowgirls finished with 20 assists against seven turnovers, and scored 16 points off of 14 UCA turnovers.
The Cowgirls led by 16 points with 13:05 to play in the first half, helped by eight points from Verdin. UCA got back into the game and trailed 34-32 at the half.
But McNeese pulled away in the second half and scored eight of the game’s final 12 points.
The Cowgirls will play at Oral Roberts at 5 p.m. Saturday.