SEC WOMEN:

Razorbacks gasp after Bulldogs tighten things up

By: RICK HARVEY SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Monday, January 13, 2014
Arkansas forward Jhasmin Bowen, center, makes a move to the basket past Mississippi State center Martha Alwal (10) during the second half of play Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas forward Jhasmin Bowen, center, makes a move to the basket past Mississippi State center Martha Alwal (10) during the second half of play Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE - The Arkansas women’s basketball team gained some breathing room - a nine-point lead midway through the second half against Mississippi State on Sunday - and appeared headed for victory in front of 1,413 at Walton Arena.

“I did feel comfortable,” Arkansas Coach Tom Collen said of his team’s 37-28 lead with 13:35 remaining. “We had the crowd behind us.”

The Razorbacks’ stay in the comfort zone didn’t last.

Mississippi State called timeout, scored the game’s next10 points for a 38-37 lead and held off the Razorbacks 54-50 to gain an SEC road victory.

The Bulldogs (13-3, 1-2) took the lead for good when Dominique Dillingham hit a three-pointer with 1:43 remaining to break a 48-48 tie.

“They called a good timeout and they came out and scored five straight times,” Collen said. “There’s no doubt that was the momentum change.

“You could see anxiety probably on our kids’ faces that they were back in another tight game. Sometimes with a young team that’s not a good position to be in.”

Arkansas (14-3, 1-3) led by 25-23 at halftime and outscored Mississippi State 10-2 to lead 37-28 after Calli Berna stole a pass and fed to Keira Peak for an easy layup with 13:35 remaining.

It was one of two fast-break baskets against the Bulldogs, who held the Razorbacks to 31.1 percent shooting from the field, including 1 of 12 from behind the three-point line.

“Mississippi State guards the three-point line better than any other team in the league,” Collen said. “They were going to deny and take the three away, but you can’t guard the lane and the arc at the same time. I thought we had some open shots. Whether we take 25 threes or if we take 12, we have to step up and hit 40 percent of those to be an effective scoring team.”

Mississippi State Coach Vic Schaefer said the Bulldogs’ defense focused on stopping Arkansas’ leading scorer Jessica Jackson, a 6-3 freshman forward from Jacksonville.

Jackson, who was held to four points, entered the game averaging 15.8 points per game.

“She is going to be a monster - she is a monster already,” said Schaefer, who was making his first trip back to Walton Arena after being an associate head coach under Gary Blair at Arkansas from 1998-2003. “We contested shots and really contested Jessica and that was our focal point.”

Jackson played 25 minutes after sitting much of the first half with three early fouls in a game during which 45 fouls were called.

“I think she shut herself down a little,” Collen said of Jackson. “She got in foul trouble, and she isn’t used to sitting over there. They were real physical with her and she didn’t deal with that very well. She knows she has to get more physical.”

Arkansas had a chance to tie the game after Mississippi State took a 53-50 lead with 48 seconds remaining, but Jhasmin Bowen was unable to find an open teammate behind the three-point line and attempted an off-balance shot that hit the side of the backboard.

“They were just denying everywhere and causing us to do things that we don’t normally do,” Peak said of Mississippi State’s defense. “Not a lot of teams deny like that.”

Freshman McKenzie Adams led the Razorbacks with 18 points, with 11 of those points coming on free throws.

Junior Martha Alwal had 18 points and 11 rebounds and freshman Breanna Richardson had 15 points and 9 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who outrebounded Arkansas 42-29.

Collen said he was particularly disappointed in his team’s lack of offensive rebounding, considering that the Razorbacks missed 31 of their 45 field-goal attempts.

“We missed 70 percent of our shots and had three offensive rebounds, and offensive rebounds are purely an effort thing,” Collen said. “Clearly we are struggling to score. We are struggling in the SEC, and that’s what happens against the best defensive conference top to bottom.”VANDERBILT 74, NO. 8 TENNESSEE 63

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Jasmine Lister scored 22 points and Christina Foggie added 21 as Vanderbilt upset No. 8 Tennessee giving the Commodores a very rare victory over their in-state rival.

Vanderbilt (14-3, 3-1 SEC) snapped a three-game skid against Tennessee with its first victory in the series since Feb. 9, 2012. The Commodores now have nine victories in the 70 games they count having played against Tennessee.

Marqu’es Webb added 12 for Vanderbilt, which now has won 11 of its last 12.

Tennessee (13-3, 2-2) now has matched the two SEC losses from all last season. Isabelle Harrison snapped a school-record streak of 10 or more points and 10 or more rebounds at seven as she scored 10 points and had only five rebounds before fouling out.

Meighan Simmons led the Lady Vols with 19 points. Jasmine Jones had 13 and Cierra Burdick 11.

Vanderbilt trailed 48-42 when the Commodores went on a 13-2 run that included a jumper by Morgan Batey that gave them their first lead since 29-28 late in the first half. Batey’s jumper put Vandy up 51-50, then the sophomore guard had a steal with Lister finishing off the fast break with a layup and Foggie added a layup capping the spurt for a 55-50 lead with 5:38 to go. NO. 9 KENTUCKY 80, MISSOURI 69

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Bria Goss scored 20 points to lead No. 9 Kentucky to a victory over Missouri at Memorial Coliseum.

Goss had a clutch three-point play with 3:34 left that helped the Wildcats (14-3, 2-2 SEC) snap a two-game losing streak. It was the 700th victory for the program.

Kentucky had five players score 10 or more points. Janee Thompson scored 16, Jennifer O’Neill and DeNesha Stallworth had 11 points apiece and Samarie Walker finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Bri Kulas led the Tigers (13-4, 2-2) with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Morgan Eye finished with 14 points.

NO. 10 SOUTH CAROLINA 72, AUBURN 66

AUBURN, Ala. - Tiffany Mitchell scored 18 points to lead No. 10 South Carolina to a comeback victory over Auburn.

Mitchell had six steals for South Carolina (16-1, 3-0 SEC), which entered the game ranked No. 3 nationally in scoring defense. Freshman center Alaina Coates scored all 14 of her points in the first half and shot 4-for-5 from the field in the victory.

Auburn (10-6, 1-2) led by as many as 12 points in the first half before a late rally from the Gamecocks. South Carolina took its first lead of the game within in the first minute of the second half on an Asia Dozier three-pointer.

NO. 12 LSU 82, FLORIDA 68

BATON ROUGE, La. - Theresa Plaisance scored 19 points and Danielle Ballard helped No. 12 LSU hand Florida its first conference defeat.

The Lady Tigers (13-3, 2-1 SEC) opened with a 14-2 burst sparked by a Jeanne Kenney three-pointer to build a lead it never lost, but later had to quell a Florida drive midway through the second half to secure the win.

Ballard contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds for LSU, while Shanece McKinney added 10 points.

Trailing by as many as 19 points, Florida (13-4, 3-1) shaved the deficit to single-digits in the second half with a 7-0 run that included a three-pointer and a pair of free throws from Kayla Lewis, making it 62-55 with 8:23 to go. The Lady Tigers responded with an 11-4 run to keep the game out of reach.

TEXAS A&M 58, NO. 25 GEORGIA 44

ATHENS, Ga. - Courtney Walker scored 16 points to lead Texas A&M to its second consecutive victory over a ranked team, beating No. 25 Georgia.

The Aggies (13-4, 3-0 SEC) took an early lead and never lost it, controlling the boards 50-35 and holding the Lady Bulldogs to 16-for-55 shooting (29 percent). Both teams shot poorly from three-point range, with Texas A&M hitting just 1 of 10 and Georgia faring even worse, making 1 of 15.

Jordan Jones contributed 13 points for the Aggies, while Tori Scott added 11, including the team’s only three-pointer to cap a 14-5 run early in the second half that kept the game out of reach. Achiri Ade pulled in 16 rebounds.

Georgia (12-5, 0-4) has now lost four consecutive.

In the other SEC game Sunday, Alabama (8-8, 1-2 SEC) defeated Mississippi 93-79 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Gracie Frizzell (Central Arkansas Christian) came off the bench to score 14 points for the Rebels (9-8, 0-3) on 4 of 8 shooting from three-point range.

SUNDAY’S GAMES Mississippi State 54, Arkansas 50 LSU 82, Florida 68 Texas A&M 58, Georgia 44 South Carolina 72, Auburn 66 Alabama 93, Mississippi 79 Kentucky 80, Missouri 69 Vanderbilt 74, Tennessee 63

Sports, Pages 17 on 01/13/2014

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