SEC/TOP 25 WOMEN:

Lady Vols squeak by Razorbacks

By: Alex Nicoll Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette
Published: Friday, February 9, 2018
Arkansas' Kiara Williams tries to get past Tennessee's Mercedes Russell during a game Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas' Kiara Williams tries to get past Tennessee's Mercedes Russell during a game Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas almost escaped Walton Arena with an upset victory over No. 11 Tennessee, but the Hogs were on the wrong end of the rebounding margin for a sixth consecutive game as they lost to the Volunteers 90-85 on Thursday night.

Tennessee outrebounded Arkansas, 45-26, including scoring on two offensive putbacks that gave the Volunteers a seven-point lead with a little over three minutes to play. The Razorbacks would chip at the lead but couldn't put together another big run to get over the hump before time expired.

After trailing the majority of the way, the Razorbacks made a late push to take a 68-67 lead with 7:06 left in the game, opening up the fourth on an 11-0 run before Tennessee's Evina Westbrook hit two free throws for the Volunteers' first points of the quarter.

Senior guard Devin Cosper scored eight of her points during the run, to go along with her team-high 29 points. She made two three-pointers with a Tennessee defender in her face to give the momentum back to the Hogs for a few minutes.

Despite Tennessee leading the way on the boards, Arkansas managed to stay in the game thanks to a strong shooting night from the three-point line. The Razorbacks finished shooting 48 percent on three-pointers (11 of 23). Cosper and junior guard Malica Monk paced the offense for the Hogs, combining to go 10 of 13 from behind the arc.

Arkansas' zone defense kept Tennessee's posts from getting an easy look at the basket on many possessions, but the Volunteers made 39 percent of their three-pointers (9 of 23), which was well above their season average of 31 percent entering the game.

Tennessee shot 48 percent overall from the field (31 of 64) with most of the Volunteers' points coming off 18 offensive rebounds.

The Hogs managed to keep Tennessee's star center Mercedes Russell from doing too much damage in the paint, limiting her to seven points. The defense collapsed on her every time she touched the ball.

Russell's teammate, freshman forward Rennia Davis was problematic for Arkansas' though. She hit 3 three-pointers but did most of her scoring on offensive putbacks and sneaking behind Arkansas' zone for wide-open layups on the weak side of the basket. The Jacksonville, Fla., native finished the night with a game-high 33 points.

Arkansas also struggled from the free-throw line, shooting 63 percent while Tennessee made more of its opportunities from the line, shooting 76 percent.

The Razorbacks will look to avoid a second consecutive loss when the No. 15 Missouri Tigers come to visit on Sunday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m., and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.

OTHER TOP 25 WOMEN’S GAMES

Roshunda Johnson scored 22 points, Teaira McCowan notched her 17th double-double of the season and No. 2 Mississippi State (25-0, 11-0 SEC) remained undefeated with a 98-50 victory at Florida (10-14, 2-9). … A’ja Wilson scored 21 points and had nine rebounds to lead No. 7 South Carolina (19-5, 8-3 SEC) to a 79-66 victory at Alabama (14-10, 4-7). … Kaila Charles had 19 points and 11 rebounds to help No. 10 Maryland (21-3, 10-1 Big Ten) beat Michigan State (14-11, 4-8) 76-68 in East Lansing, Mich. … Shakayla Thomas scored 20 points, A.J. Alix added 17 and No. 12 Florida State (20-4, 8-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) turned back Virginia (15-9, 8-3) 77-62 in Tallahassee. … Kelsey Mitchell scored 28 points to lead No. 13 Ohio State (20-5, 9-3 Big Ten Conference) to a 90-68 victory over Rutgers (18-8, 6-6) in Columbus, Ohio. … Chennedy Carter scored 20 of her 26 points in the first half when No. 14 Texas A&M (19-6, 8-3 SEC) held Mississippi (11-13, 1-11) to 13 in an 83-54 victory at College Station. … Sophie Cunningham scored 29 points on 8-of-10 shooting, Cierra Porter had a double-double and No. 15 Missouri (19-5, 7-4 SEC) held off Kentucky (12-13, 4-7) 83-78 at Columbia, Mo. … Taja Cole had 11 points, 7 assists and a career-high 5 steals, and No. 18 Georgia (21-3, 9-2 SEC) turned back Vanderbilt (6-19, 2-9) 67-55 in Athens. … Katelynn Flaherty scored 36 points, making nine three-pointers, and No. 21 Michigan (20-6, 9-4) snapped a two-game skid with an 84-63 victory over visiting Northwestern (9-16, 2-9). … Keyanna Harris scored nine of her 17 points in the fourth quarter to help Miami (17-7, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) upset No. 23 North Carolina State (19-6, 8-4) 52-48 in Coral Gables, Fla.

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