Tolefree strong in debut, leads Arkansas to easy win

By: ANDREW EPPERSON Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette
Published: Friday, November 9, 2018
Arkansas guard Alexis Tolefree dribbles the ball during a game against Northwestern State on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Walt Beazley, Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas guard Alexis Tolefree dribbles the ball during a game against Northwestern State on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE – Alexis Tolefree air-balled a 3-point shot with 3 minutes, 25 seconds remaining in the game, She looked at her Arkansas teammates and laughed before getting back on defense.

After hitting five triples prior to that, the junior guard from Conway didn’t take the miss too seriously in what was a dominant 98-53 victory over Northwestern State in the season-opener in Bud Walton Arena on Friday.

“This is what I dreamed of since I was in seventh grade, being able to put the Razorback jersey on,” Tolefree said. “It’s a big deal to me. Every game is gonna be me going hard.”

Tolefree finished with 19 points on 5 of 11 shooting that included a 50-percent mark from behind the arc. She led seven Razorbacks who scored in double figures, the most to do so in a single game in program history.

“We took good shots,” said Mike Neighbors, Arkansas’ second-year coach. “Seven people in double figures … I only remember doing that one time in Tecmo basketball back on Nintendo when I had it. That’s great balance.”

While Arkansas’ offense often relied on Malica Monk to put up video game-like numbers last year to stay in games, the guard play of Tolefree, sophomore Chelsea Dungee and sophomore A’Tyanna Gaulden have shown glimpses of high-volume scoring ability.

“We give Mal fresh legs when I come in and help her out,” Gaulden said after pouring in 16 points of her own. “Mal is doing very good, and then I come in and help her roll.”

The season-opening game featured the program’s ninth-annual “Elementary Day” promotion that gives local kids a chance to attend the game, and the combination of missing school and watching the Hogs energized the big crowd before the game even started.

The record event made for one of the loudest contests the Hogs will play all season.

“It was incredibly loud,” Neighbors said. “I remember four or five times when you couldn’t hear the whistle, and I’ve never been in a women’s basketball gym when that happened.”


• Arkansas’ announced attendance was 5,497, which marked a record crowd for the program’s annual “Elementary Day” game.

• With her 12-point performance, Malica Monk scored in double figures in all four season-opening games she played in as a Razorback. She also had three assists and two steals.

• The Razorbacks’ 98-point scoring output gives them a whopping 104.6-point average in two exhibitions and one regular season game.


The Razorbacks will travel to Arlington, Texas, to play UT-Arlington on Nov. 14. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.


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