SEC WOMEN:

Watkins delivers boost off bench

By: MARTY COOK SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Arkansas senior post Sarah Watkins, center, takes a shot in the lane as Texas Southern junior center Crystal Anyiam defends during the first half of play Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, in Bud Walton Arena.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas senior post Sarah Watkins, center, takes a shot in the lane as Texas Southern junior center Crystal Anyiam defends during the first half of play Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, in Bud Walton Arena.

— Arkansas senior center Sarah Watkins asked Coach Tom Collen if she was going to start against Texas Southern on Thursday.

For the third consecutive game, the answer was no. The lineup change is looking pretty good, though.

Watkins, held out the first four minutes, sparked the Arkansas women’s basketball team off the bench with a game-changing rally that led to a 72-50 victory Thursday night in front of an announced crowd of 623 at Walton Arena.

Watkins had started 79 consecutive games dating to her sophomore year befo2re becoming Collen’s super sub three games ago.

Collen insisted Watkins’ move to the bench is not a demotion but a tactical move to help keep his best player out of foul trouble. Watkins has a tendency to pick up early fouls, Collen said, so making her watch for a few minutes is supposed to prevent that.

When Watkins made her appearance Thursday, the Razorbacks trailed 9-2 and were playing listlessly after playing three games in Hawaii this past weekend. Watkins scored immediately on a three-point play that started an 11-0 run, a span during which Watkins scored seven points.

“Watkins is a star,” Texas Southern Coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke said. “She is a matchup nightmare. Every coach wants a player like her.”

Watkins, who was not made available for the postgame news conference, tied for the team high with 12 points and had six rebounds. Soon after the 11-0 run, the Razorbacks went on a 10-0 run to take a 23-11 lead with 8:08 left in the first half.

“We needed to dictate on defense,” Collen said. “There’s no doubt that was the key moment getting us jumpstarted.”

The second half, despite sporadic sluggish play from Arkansas, was a matter of determining the final margin. The Razorbacks led 33-21 at halftime and led by 31 points in the second half.

Sports, Pages 26 on 11/30/2012

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