SEC WOMEN:

UA women (13-0) perfectly content

By: RICK HARVEY SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Sunday, December 29, 2013
Arkansas Coach Tom Collen watches his team take on Mississippi Valley State during the second half of the game in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on Saturday December 28, 2013. Arkansas defeated Mississippi Valley State 100-54.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas Coach Tom Collen watches his team take on Mississippi Valley State during the second half of the game in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on Saturday December 28, 2013. Arkansas defeated Mississippi Valley State 100-54.

FAYETTEVILLE - It took the Arkansas women’s basketball team only six minutes to shake off any rust from an eight-day holiday layoff Saturday afternoon at Walton Arena.

After missing four of its first six shots in the opening five minutes of the game, the Razorbacks went on a 25-3 run to grab the momentum for good and cruised to a 100-54 victory over Mississippi Valley State in their final tuneup before heading into SEC play.

Every player scored for Arkansas (13-0). The team shot 54 percent from the field, made 10 three-pointers and scored 31 points off 23 Mississippi Valley State turnovers.

“They had every reason to be rusty,” Arkansas Coach Tom Collen said. “We were tentative early, missed a lot of shots, but then we stepped up and shot the ball well, got a lead and really played relaxed.”

Leading 6-4 with 15:25 left in the first half, Arkansas closed out the half by outscoring the Devilettes 40-11.

Senior Keira Peak scored 10 of her 12 points in the opening 10 minutes of the game to ignite a 14-0 run and give Arkansas the cushion it continued to build on behind 10 first-half points from junior Jhasmin Bowen and nine from freshman Jessica Jackson.

“It’s really easy when we get back from a break to have minor slip-ups here and there, but overall we played well as a team,” said junior Calli Berna, who tied a career high with13 assists, including eight in the second half, without committing a turnover. “I thought we played very well together today up and down the floor.

“It was a fun game to play in, and I’m sure it was a fun game to watch.”

Five players scored at least 10 points for the Razorbacks, who have outscored nonconference opponents by an average 33 points per game. Bowen was 7 of 8 from the field and scored a team-best 18 points, Jackson had 15, Peak 12, McKenzie Adams 11 and Ana Faussurier 10.

“We’ve got players on the bench who we are going to need in the SEC,” Collen said. “We got them some valuable minutes today.”

Jasmyne Sanders shot 8 of 13 and finished with 21 points for the Devilettes (1-9), who shot 36 percent, including 20percent in the first half.

“Our kids were still on Christmas break today,” Mississippi Valley State Coach Elvis Robinson said. “We really seemed checked out today, but Arkansas shot the ball extremely well. Any time a team shoots 54 percent they are going to be a tough team to beat.”

The Razorbacks open SEC play Thursday at Walton Arena against No. 13 South Carolina (12-1). The Gamecocks’ only loss came Dec. 18 against No. 10 North Carolina.

“I don’t think you can ask for anything better than starting 13-0 and for a team to shoot better than we’ve shot,” Collen said. “So far we’ve played all facets of the game well, so we know the potential is there.

“The question is, can we consistently do it night in and night out against better competition.”

TOP 25 SEC WOMEN

NO. 13 SOUTH CAROLINA 82, SAVANNAH STATE 40

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Tiffany Mitchell scored 18 points and the South Carolina defense made sure Savannah State was no challenge.

Alaina Coates came off the bench to score 17 points and grab 12 rebounds for the Gamecocks (12-1). Aleighsa Welch added 14 points and Asia Dozier had 10. Mitchell also had 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists.

Jasmine Kirkland led Savannah State (5-7) with 19 points, one shy of her career high.

NO. 19 GEORGIA 82, ILLINOIS 60

ATHENS, Ga. - Shacobia Barbee had 17 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists to lead No. 19 Georgia over Illinois.

The Lady Bulldogs (12-1) took a 65-40 lead with 10:06 left in the game as Khaalidah Miller’s layup capped an 18-6 run. Georgia also used an 11-0 run in the first half to go ahead 25-15 and closed out the half on a 10-3 run to lead 38-25 at the break.

Krista Donald had 10 points and 15 rebounds and 7 assists for Georgia, which out rebounded the Illini 51-30. The Lady Bulldogs shot 55 percent from the field.

Sports, Pages 29 on 12/29/2013

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