Razorbacks’ rally from 16 down falls just short

Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Arkansas coach Tom Collen directs his players during the second half of play against Mississippi State Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas coach Tom Collen directs his players during the second half of play against Mississippi State Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.

The Georgia women’s team went into Thursday night’s game against Arkansas unranked for the first time in almost three years and 0-4 in the SEC for the first time in the program’s history.

The Bulldogs are feeling a little better today.

Shacobia Barbee scored 17 points and the Bulldogs closed out the game by scoring their final eight points from the free-throw line to defeat the Razorbacks 60-58 at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.

Krista Donald added 11 points and Marjorie Butler 10 as Georgia (13-5, 1-4 SEC) handed Arkansas (14-4, 1-4) its third consecutive loss in SEC play.

“I laugh when I say this, but if they had stepped up a little earlier at the free-throw line we might have not needed them to come back so late,” Georgia Coach Andy Landers said. “But when the intense heat was on and the clock was running low and we needed points, people went to the free-throw line and made big baskets.”

Arkansas freshman Jessica Jackson scored a career-high 24 points, after being held to four points Sunday against Mississippi State, while Jhasmin Bowen added 12 points and Keira Peak had 10, but missed opportunities late in the game cost the Razorbacks, who finished 13 of 26 (50 percent) from the free-throw line.

Arkansas held the Bulldogs to two field goals - both three-pointers - over the final 13:06 and cut the lead to52-51 on a three-pointer by Calli Berna with 2:05 left in the game, but Georgia made 8 of 10 free throws over the final 1:46.

“Losses are tough, but this is a young team,” said Arkansas Coach Tom Collen, whose team forced Georgia into 21 turnovers. “They got down early and they really fought. That’s all you can ask of your team. If they’re going to get better every day, take a loss and get better down the road, then that’s all you can ask for.”

Georgia outscored Arkansas 13-2 over a six-minute stretch to take a 24-11 lead at the 5:26 mark of the first half and went into halftime leading 27-18. But the Bulldogs outscored the Razorbacks 9-2 coming out of halftime to push their lead to 36-20 with 17:48 to play.

Georgia led 44-30 with 13:19 to play, but Jackson, who scored five first-half points, scored six of Arkansas’ next seven points as the Razorbacks pulled within 47-37 with 8:03 to left.

Two free throws by Donald gave Georgia a 49-37 lead with 7:30 left, but baskets by Melissa Wolff and Berna pulled the Razorbacks within 49-41 at 6:09. Jackson hit consecutive three-pointers to bring the Razorbacks within 49-47 with 4:40 left, but Butler answered with a three-pointer to give Georgia at 52-47 lead with 4:11 left.

“I don’t think there’s a bigger play than Marjorie Butler’s jump shot,” Landers said.

The scored remained 52-47 until Bowen made a free throw and Berna made her three-pointer that cut the lead to 52-51 with 2:05 left before Georgia put it away at the free-throw line. The Bulldogs finished 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) from the line.

“The numbers do show a pretty good game for us, but at the end of the day the wins are what matters,” Berna said. “What we realize is that we grew up a little bit tonight.

“In the SEC, you’ve got to just keep battling, keep your head down and work for everything.”THURSDAY’S GAMES Georgia 60, Arkansas 58 Vanderbilt 80, Mississippi 74 Auburn 61, Alabama 39 LSU 87, Missouri 68 Texas A&M 67, South Carolina 65, OT Tennessee 67, Mississippi State 63 SUNDAY’S GAMES All times Central Georgia at Florida, noon LSU at Vanderbilt, 1 p.m.

Kentucky at Auburn, 1 p.m.

Mississippi at Arkansas, 2 p.m.

Mississippi State at Texas A&M, 2 p.m.

Alabama at South Carolina, 2 p.m.

Sports, Pages 25 on 01/17/2014