Arkansas rallies, then holds off Nebraska

By: Steve Andrews
Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Arkansas guards Chelsea Dungee (33) and Jailyn Mason (14) celebrate during the closing moments against Nebraska Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, during the second half of the Razorbacks' 84-80 win in Bud Walton Arena.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas guards Chelsea Dungee (33) and Jailyn Mason (14) celebrate during the closing moments against Nebraska Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, during the second half of the Razorbacks' 84-80 win in Bud Walton Arena.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas junior Kiara Williams hit two free throws with 5.7 seconds left Tuesday night to secure the win for the Razorbacks women’s basketball team, as they held on to beat Big Ten Conference foe Nebraska 84-80 in Bud Walton Arena.

Nebraska’s Sam Haiby had a chance to tie the game for the Cornhuskers with 10 seconds left, but missed a layup, allowing Williams to secure the rebound and got fouled.

Sophomore Chelsea Dungee scored 20 of her game-high 23 points in the second half, leading five Razorbacks in double-digit scoring.

After beginning the game ice cold from the floor — making just two of its first 16 shots — Arkansas trailed 15-2 with 3 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter. But the Razorbacks closed the quarter on an 8-0 run, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Dungee and Raven Northcross-Baker, to cut the lead to 15-10.

Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said Nebraska’s superior size contributed to the early scoring slump, as the Cornhuskers were able to alter shots with 6-foot-5 center Kate Cain in the middle.

“It took us a little time to get adjusted and start making some shots, but I thought our team was very resilient, especially after getting down 13 early,” Neighbors said. “They found a way to battle back.”

Arkansas (9-3) kept the momentum into the second period, tying the game 23-23 on Jailyn Mason’s layup with 4:44 to play in the half.

Alexis Tolefree, who was 0-5 from the arc in the first half, sparked the Hogs on a 12-0 run early in the second half with consecutive threes within a 21-second stint, giving Arkansas a 43-38 advantage.

“We made some adjustments in the second half and put Lex [Tolefree] up top and Chelsea along the baseline, and they made some really nice passes to each other,” Neighbors said. “They went zone on us for one possession and Lex hit a three, and that just seemed to open the flood gates.”

Dungee’s layup and free throw with 7:19 left in the game, gave the Razorbacks their largest lead at 66-57.

Nebraska went on an 8-0 run late in the game, taking an 80-79 lead on Haiby’s free throw with 1:04 to play. Dungee’s driving layup with 43 seconds left, put the Hogs back up by a point. She then added a free throw for an 82-80 lead.

“It’s always good to get the win, but when you can beat a Big Ten team, another Power 5 team, it always helps bump that RPI,” Neighbors said. “I think we were 49th in the RPI this week, so that should bump us up. That’s what excites us coaches.”

Malica Monk finished with 16 points and four assists, with Tolefree adding 13 points and Mason 11. Williams finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds.

Haiby led the Cornhuskers (5-6) with 16 points, and Ashlyn Veerbeek added 14.

TIP-INS

• Malica Monk’s 16 points, gives her 1,008 points for her career. She is the 28th Arkansas women’s player to reach the 1,000-point plateau.

• Four different players have led Arkansas in scoring this season — Dungee, Monk, Tolefree and Thomas.

• This was only the second time Arkansas and Nebraska have played in women’s basketball. The Cornhuskers beat the Razorbacks 80-69 in Lincoln last season.

• Arkansas is now 2-0 against the Big Ten this season, including a 69-68 win over Wisconsin on Nov. 25.

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