Razorbacks clamp down on Gators
Arkansas point guard Calli Berna has the ball knocked out of her hands by Florida guard Jaterra Bonds as she tries to drive to the hoop during the first half of Thursday night's game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas held one of the SEC’s top scoring teams to a season low Thursday night and picked up a crucial resume-building victory.
The Razorbacks scored 28 points off 25 Florida turnovers and held the Gators to two field goals in the final 9:15 of the game in a 55-49 victory in front of an estimated 624 fans at Walton Arena.
Florida entered the game averaging 78.1 points per game.
“The defense was just outstanding today,” said Razorbacks Coach Tom Collen, who was so happy with his teams defensive performance that he brought his wife, Nicki, the team’s defensive play-caller, with him in to the post game interview room. “We’ve had so many games that we’ve let slip away. The kids needed this.”
Freshmen Kelsey Brooks, Jessica Jackson and McKenzie Adams combined for 38 points for Arkansas (16-7, 3-7), highlighted by a 15-point night from Brooks, who also had a career-high seven steals.
“We played with a lot of energy today and really had a lot of heart at the end,” Brooks said. “We were able to get them to turn the ball over and that helped out a lot.”
Florida (16-7, 6-4), which entered the game tied for fourth place in the SEC, had 13 turnovers in the second half, including seven in the final nine minutes when Arkansas grabbed the momentum for good.
The Gators took a 42-39 lead with 9:15 remaining on a three-point play by Kayla Lewis. Arkansas tied the game at 42-42 on a three-pointer by Adams, and that ignited a 12-0 run that gave the Razorbacks a 51-42 lead.
“We know how a scoring drought can affect your psychologically, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that it took the air out of them,” Collen said.
Florida, which missed eight shots during the Arkansas run, never recovered.
“They did a great job of dictating the game,” Gators Coach Amanda Butler said. “They made sure we didn’t play Florida basketball today. In this league, when you have 25 turnovers on someone else’s floor, you significantly reduce your chances of winning.”
Arkansas shot 33.9 percent and was out rebounded 43-30, but it effectively mixed its defense from a man-to-man to a zone and confused the Gators.
“We were able to limit them to one shot so many times or get a big turnovers,” Nicki Collen said. “We really understood what to do and really felt like we could win.”
The Razorbacks, which lost 59-52 to Florida on Jan. 9 in Gainesville, Fla., outscored the Gators 8-2 over the final three minutes of the first half and took a 28-26 lead into halftime. The game was tied five times in the opening half, and there were four lead changes.
The Gators led 11-8 when Arkansas used six quick points from Adams and a three-pointer by Adams during a 9-2 run that gave the Razorbacks a 17-13 lead.
Florida outscored Arkansas 11-3 over the next six minutes and took a 24-20 lead on Jaterra Bonds’ layup with 4:32 left in the half.
Arkansas erased the deficit in the final 2:59 of the half, which included five points from Brooks, including a steal and a layup and a three-pointer.
The Razorbacks shot 38.5 percent in the first half but scored 16 points off 12 Florida turnovers.
SOUTHLAND WOMEN CENTRAL ARKANSAS 80, SE LOUISIANA 70
Central Arkansas (14-7, 8-2) made six free throws in the final minute to hold off Southeastern Louisiana (6-15, 5-4) at the Farris Center in Conway to stay atop the Southland Conference standings.
The Sugar Bears won for the ninth time in 11 games and improved to 9-3 at home this season.
Senior center Courtney Duever, who went down briefly with a shoulder injury in the first half, came back to finish with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes. Junior forward Terai Sadler scored a career-high 17 points, while freshman guards Brianna Mullins and Maggie Proffitt added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for UCA.
Aja Gibson led the Lady Lions with 18 points. Nanna Pool finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Sports, Pages 20 on 02/07/2014