UA women follow Watkins’ lead

Published: Friday, February 1, 2013
Sarah Watkins, pictured in an earlier game, scored a career-high 28 points at Ole Miss on Thursday.
Photo by Michael Woods
Sarah Watkins, pictured in an earlier game, scored a career-high 28 points at Ole Miss on Thursday.

— Sarah Watkins broke loose and the Arkansas women’s team broke through for a change in Oxford, Miss.

Watkins scored a career high 28 points Thursday night as the Razorbacks defeated Ole Miss 77-66 at Tad Smith Coliseum for only the second time in the program’s history.

Watkins made 11 of 15 shots from the field, 6 of 7 free throws and pulled down 5 rebounds.

“Sarah was tough tonight,” Arkansas Coach Tom Collen said.

“We need games like that from her as we continue through the SEC season. That was our game plan going in as we knew Ole Miss was not big inside.”

Sophomore Jhasmin Bowen added 14 points for the Razorbacks, while forwards Keira Peak and Quistelle Williams scored 12 each. Arkansas also won the rebounding battle, 44-37, and had only nine turnovers.

Sophomore guard Calli Berna had 8 assists and 6 rebounds in 40 minutes without a turnover and blocked 1 shot.

Ole Miss (8-13, 1-7 SEC) came out strong in the opening 10 minutes behind an aggressive trapping defense that prevented Arkansas (15-6, 3-5) from getting the ball inside to Watkins.

Arkansas started the game shooting 4 of 13 from the field, and Ole Miss led 15-7 with just less than 13 minutes left in the first half.

Arkansas tied the game at 25-25 with 6:53 left when Peak scored on a drive to the basket, was fouled and made the ensuing free throw.

It was back and forth for the remained of the half, with Arkansas grabbing a 34-33 lead on a layup by Peak with 3:44 left. Watkins scored twice on layups in the final two minutes of half as Arkansas took a 38-35 lead into the break.

Watkins finished the half with 16 points.

The game remained tight for the first eight minutes of the second half before Watkins, Williams and Peak took over and Arkansas outscored Ole Miss 20-3 to take control.

The Razorbacks shot 53.3 percent from the field in the second half and 48.4 percent for the game while holding Ole Miss to 32.3 percent shooting.

Tia Faleru and Diara Moore scored 14 points each to lead Ole Miss, and Valencia McFarland had 11.

“This is a great win as we head into the next road game,” Collen said. “We need this momentum as the season continues.”

Sports, Pages 24 on 02/01/2013