TOP 25 SEC WOMEN:

Defensive lapses cost UA women

By: MARTY COOK SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013
NWA Media/ANDY SHUPE -- Arkansas' Quistelle Williams (24) has the ball knocked away by Georgia's Tamika Willis (24), Shacobla Barbee (20) and Krista Donald (15) Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, during the first half of play in Bud Walton Arena on the UA campus in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
NWA Media/ANDY SHUPE -- Arkansas' Quistelle Williams (24) has the ball knocked away by Georgia's Tamika Willis (24), Shacobla Barbee (20) and Krista Donald (15) Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, during the first half of play in Bud Walton Arena on the UA campus in Fayetteville.

— Arkansas’ women’s basketball team had a victory against No. 13 Georgia there for the taking Thursday night.

Then it was gone.

The Razorbacks blew a 15-point first-half lead and fell 57-53 to the Bulldogs in front of 1,357 fans Thursday at Walton Arena. Arkansas (13-5, 1-4 SEC) scored nine points in the final 7:13, allowing the Bulldogs (16-2, 4-1) to escape with an SEC road victory.

HIGHLIGHTS

Arkansas blew a 15-point first half lead

Sarah Watkins scored a team-high 14 points

The Razorbacks fell to 13-5 overall, 1-4 in the SEC; Georgia improved to 16-2, 4-1

Arkansas’ undoing came after Quistelle Williams made a jumper to give her team a 44-39 lead with 7:13 left. Tom Collen, Arkansas’ normally subdued coach, turned to the crowd behind the Razorbacks’ bench and waved his arms to get the fans to rally his defense.

The crowd tried to help and Arkansas tried defensively, but Georgia was too good. The Bulldogs got baskets inside from Jasmine James, Shacobia Barbee and Krista Donald to take a 45-44 lead.

The Bulldogs scored nine consecutive points to take a 48-44 lead, and they never trailed again.

“We did let this one slip away, no question about it,” Collen said. “We let it slip away on the defensive end. We couldn’t get any stops on the other end.”

Collen said the Razorbacks had success mixing and switching zones against the Bulldogs, but when they went to man in the second half, Georgia was able to dominate inside. The Bulldogs made 13 of 26 shots from the field in the second half after making just 7 of 28 in the first half.

“We just got beat man-toman in the post,” Collen said. “We just didn’t execute defensively down the stretch.”

The Bulldogs’ dominance inside, coupled with Arkansas’ offensive doldrums down the stretch, ruined the Razorbacks’ upset chances.

“We were missing shots and not getting stops,” said senior center Sarah Watkins, who had a team-high 14 points. “You put those two things together and the other team is going to have a run.

“We’d always like to have a win. We just couldn’t take advantage.”

Turnovers didn’t help Arkansas’ offense. The Razorbacks made 18 compared to 10 for Georgia, and one loomed crucial with Arkansas leading.

The Razorbacks, clinging to a 44-41 lead, were about to get a shot-clock violation when a Georgia player kicked the ball, putting 15 seconds back on the shot clock. Immediately after the inbounds pass, the Razorbacks threw the ball away and Georgia was off on its run.

“Turnovers killed us,” Collen said. “They didn’t force the turnovers as much as we gave it away.”

Much like the Razorbacks felt about the game.

The Razorbacks started slowly but quickly made up for it with an outburst of points from freshman guard Dominique Wilson. Wilson came to Arkansas with a reputation as a big-time scorer but hadn’t delivered on her promise much this season, averaging 4.4 points a game.

Her three-pointer gave Arkansas its first lead at 6-5 and a long jumper and another three-pointer put the Razorbacks ahead 13-9. Wilson’s hot shooting — 12 points in the first half, before being held scoreless in the second half — helped Arkansas put together a 19-4 run for a 22-9 lead.

The Razorbacks led by 13 points several times and by as many as 15 points before taking a 30-19 lead into halftime.

Sports, Pages 19 on 01/18/2013

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