Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Arkansas takes wind out of Tulsa
Arkansas forward Jessica Jackson and Tulsa guard Jasmine Vasquez go after a loose ball during the first half of Tuesday night's game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Tulsa held a three-point lead over Arkansas six minutes into their women’s basketball game Tuesday night.
Then Arkansas turned up the defensive heat and Tulsa went scoreless for nearly 10 minutes as the Razorbacks blew past the Golden Hurricane 81-43 before a crowd of 562 at Walton Arena on a frigid evening in Northwest Arkansas.
The Razorbacks (11-0) remained unbeaten in pursuit of their school-record 15-0 start of 2007.
Freshman McKenzie Adams made 6 of 7 three-pointers and led Arkansas with a career-high 22 points, while classmate Jessica Jackson added 14 points and senior Keira Peak scored 10.
Ashley Clark led the Hurricane (3-3) with 14 points.
Adams improved her three-point shooting to 20 of 42 (47.6 percent).
“We signed her because she can shoot it,” Arkansas Coach Tom Collen said. “I’ve always had a great belief that she was going to be the kid that would rise up and knock down shots for us.”
Adams made both of her three-point shots in the first half, then went 4 for 5 in the second half for a career-best six three-pointers, helping the Razorbacks repel any Tulsa runs.
“That has something to do with us being in the flow,” Adams said. “We were running the court, swinging the ball really good, and I had wide open shots. I don’t think I took a contested three, so that comes with just moving the ball really well and everybody worrying about guarding my teammates.”
Tulsa Coach Matilda Mossman, who got her first head coaching job at Arkansas in 1981 at age 24, knew about Adams’ prowess from beyond the arc after trying to recruit her.
“She just continued to knock down threes,” Mossman said. “Every time you’d make a little push, she’d knock down another three and it kind of backs you down a little bit.”
The Razorbacks’ game-changing 18-0 run featured scoring from seven players, eight missed shots by Tulsa, a blocked shot by Melissa Wolf and plenty of defensive pressure by the Razorbacks. Tulsa struggled against Arkansas’ press and turned the ball over nine times during its scoreless stretch of 9:55.
“The wheels basically fell off and we couldn’t get them put back on,” Mossman said.
“We weren’t really dictating to them defensively,” Collen said of the opening stretch. “I thought once we got about 10 minutes into the game, we got up and pressured them a little harder, we got in gaps. They started trying to dribble penetrate our gaps and it just gave us the ball because we were where we were supposed to be.”
Jhasmin Bowen had a left-handed tip-in to pull Arkansas within one, then Peak put the Razorbacks ahead to stay with a 17-footer. A few minutes later, Kelsey Brooks cashed in a layup on the break and Arkansas led by double figures, 25-14, for good.
By the time the stretch ended, Arkansas had turned a 14-11 deficit into a 29-14 lead as Tulsa’s shooting turned as cold as the frosty winter night.
Arkansas shot 46.2 percent (30 of 65) and held the Hurricane to 13 of 52 (25 percent) shooting.
“Arkansas’ pressure will do that to you,” Mossman said. “We’ve seen them on film against experienced teams and experienced teams panic against them. … That pressure is just relentless.”
Sports, Pages 21 on 12/11/2013