UA pack follows the lead of Wolff

Published: Monday, January 6, 2014
Melissa Wolff scored 14 points and recorded 12 rebounds in her first start at Missouri on Sunday. The Razorbacks won 69-66.
Photo by ADG File Photo
Melissa Wolff scored 14 points and recorded 12 rebounds in her first start at Missouri on Sunday. The Razorbacks won 69-66.

Melissa Wolff made her first start count.

Wolff, a sophomore from Cabot, had 14 points and 12 rebounds while freshman Jessica Jackson tied a career-high 22 points as the Arkansas women’s team held off Missouri 69-66 Sunday afternoon at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Calli Berna added 11 points and eight assists for Arkansas while Kelsey Brooks came off the bench to score eight points as six different Razorbacks finished with at least three points each.

“We had so many great efforts today,” Arkansas Coach Tom Collen said. “You’ve got to start with Melissa Wolff, and for her to play the way she did - rebounding, defending - it really started with her. We had a lot of other great contributions today as well, especially from our freshmen.

“I think we grew up a little from this.”

The Razorbacks (14-1, 1-1 SEC) made 16 consecutive free throws in the second half to put away the Tigers (12-3, 1-1). Berna scored all 11 of her points in the second half, which included making 8 of 8 from the free-throw line in the closing minutes.

“We found out we’ve got kids that aren’t afraid to go to the free-throw line,” Collen said. “They did a fantastic job closing this one out.”

Bri Kulas and Morgan Eye led Missouri with 18 points each, and Lianna Doty added 11.

“Obviously, it was a tough game for us,” Missouri Coach Robin Pingeton said. “We shot the ball a lot better in the second half than the first half. I felt like early on we had a lot of good looks and maybe let a little deflation set it, but I felt like after halftime we really responded in a positive way.”

Jackson was aggressive from the start, scoring nine points as Arkansas expanded a 9-4 lead to 22-13 with just under six minutes to play in the first half. The Razorbacks did most of their early work inside, scoring 18 first-half points down low, and outscored Missouri 9-0 in fastbreak points.

McKenzie Adams and Keira Peak were a combined 2 for 13 in the first half, but a three-pointer by Adams in transition that was followed by a steal and a basket by Peak helped Arkansas expand its lead.

Wolff, a sophomore, scored 6 points on 3-of-4 shooting with 5 rebounds in the first half. Brooks came in off the bench to add 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block and 2 steals as the Razorbacks took a 27-24 lead into halftime.

Missouri shot 27 percent (7 of 26) from the field in the half, including 14 percent (1 of 7) from behind the three-point line. The Tigers came into the game shooting 43.3 percent from the field and were third in the country in three-point accuracy at 39.9 percent.

Eye found her range early in the second half after scoring only seven points in the first half. Missouri took its first lead, 33-31, five minutes into the second half, and the teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the game.

Back-to-back three-point baskets from Berna and Adams tied the game at 42-42 with 8:31 to play.

Jackson and Wolff came up with big shots late to help give the Razorbacks a comfortable lead, combining to score 17 of the team’s final 24 points.

Collen said he was encouraged by his team fighting back after falling behind in the second half.

“We got off to a hot and somewhat easy start to begin the season,” he said. “For them to get behind in the second half, regain the lead and grind it out the rest of the way was great to see.”

Sports, Pages 13 on 01/06/2014