After two more wins and a quick turnaround, Central Arkansas Christian’s Lady Mustangs will get another chance at Malvern on Friday, this time at Mustang Mountain.
Two weeks after a 52-45 loss on the Lady Leopards’ home floor, CAC (16-3 overall, 8-1 in the 7-4A) hopes for some revenge and a chance to tie for the conference lead.
"Malvern is one of the top teams in the state, and we’ve lost to them about four times in a row," CAC coach Steve Quattlebaum said. "We’ve beaten them just once over the last two or three years. We need to beat them just for confidence’s sake on down the line."
Tip is set for 6 p.m. Malvern opened the week 16-2 and ranked atop Class 4A, according to one statewide publication.
Two weeks ago, CAC missed some chances to extend a good lead by halftime and instead held just a two-point advantage at the break and saw its momentum interrupted. The Lady Leopards won the third quarter, 18-9, with some hot shooting.
Quattlebaum hopes his team has recovered from a stretch during which it did not play as well as he expected it to.
Last week’s results appear to affirm that hope. The Lady Mustangs beat Arkansas Baptist, 64-25, and Nashville, 55-33. In the first meetings, they had won by 48-18 and 35-30, respectively.
"We played a little better last week," Quattlebaum said. "Baptist was close at halftime; we were struggling, but we started Jessica McCauley in the second half and she immediately hits a 3 and gets an assist and gets us going. In the second half, we played really well. We played good defense. We’re a little better defensively than we were last year. We’re about where I thought we’d be last year, but we just never really got there."
Sydnie Jones led the Lady Mustangs with 20 points. McCauley and Rachel Mina came off the bench for nine points each.
Against Nashville, Falan Miller played "one of her better halves in a long time," Quattlebaum said. The Harding University signee finished with 20 points. Jones added 15 and Sarah Butler 11.
"We played a little better first half this time," Quattlebaum said. "We had a few turnovers, but we got that corrected in the second half. Sarah Butler has been playing well the last couple of games. She’s been shooting the 3 well and has hit a few that really helped us. And she’s cut down on her turnovers. Rachel Mina has done a good job off the bench. She gives us another tough, hard rebounder and can get the ball to other people when she has to. And she gets a put-back here or there. She gives us a lot off the bench."
A planned trip to Pulaski Robinson was postponed because of the weather. After Malvern, the Lady Mustangs will play host to Bauxite on Friday. CAC won the first meeting, 33-27.
"Bauxite played us tough," he said. "We haven’t had a three-game week in a while, so that will be a tough turnaround. Luckily, we’re at home. Win or lose, you don’t know how you’re going to react after that big game Thursday, but it’s good practice for what we’ll have to do in the district and regional tournament."
CAC will celebrate Senior Night on Tuesday, Feb. 11 when Arkadelphia visits Mustang Mountain. The Lady Mustangs won the first meeting, 40-28. They’ll close the regular season on Valentine’s Day when they travel to Ashdown.