Arkansas women get set for three-game challenge

By: Paul Boyd
Published: Friday, November 23, 2018
Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors (right) speaks with an official during a game against Arizona State on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by David Beach
Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors (right) speaks with an official during a game against Arizona State on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Fayetteville.

There's no question Alexis Tolefree wanted to get a big win against a nationally ranked opponent Sunday night, but the fact she and the Arkansas women's basketball team came up just short against No. 22 Arizona State didn't dampen her enthusiasm for the next challenge.

"We did what coach asked us to do. We played hard, and we stayed together as a team," said Tolefree following the 88-85 loss. "I'm proud of our team, and I look forward to what comes next."

At A Glance

Challenge in Music City

Municipal Auditorium, Nashville

Tonight’s Game

Arkansas vs. Tennessee State, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday’s Game

Arkansas vs. Pittsburgh, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday’s Game

Arkansas vs. Wisconsin, 7:30 p.m.

What's in the immediate future for the Razorbacks (2-1) is three different opponents in three days following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Arkansas will travel to Nashville to take part in the Challenge in Music City beginning tonight against Tennessee State (0-4). The Razorbacks will face Pittsburgh (2-3) on Saturday and finish off against Wisconsin (4-0) on Sunday.

All three games are scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m. in Municipal Auditorium.

Tolefree, a 5-foot-8 junior from Conway, is averaging a team-high 19.7 points per game, including a game-high 22 against Arizona State. The junior college transfer has come up big just three games into her Arkansas career, hitting a game-winning jumper last week at Texas-Arlington.

Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said the games this weekend present certain challenges.

"We'll see three unique opponents," Neighbors said. "It's three teams conferences, all picked toward the bottom of their leagues in Pitt, Wisconsin and us. And you've got a team hosting when they host these things they know what they're doing. They are picking teams they match up well against."

Fatigue has been a concern in past years for teams playing three games in three days, but not this year, Neighbors said. But that doesn't mean he won't be cautious in managing minutes over the course of the three days.

"Coming off a game that we learned an awful lot about our team, I'm looking for further growth," Neighbors said. "I'd rather them be a little less prepared and more rested than the other way around."

Neighbors said his team showed maturity last week with the road game followed by the big home game against a ranked opponent.

"I thought our kids have good perspective," Neighbors said. "They certainly expected and wanted to win, but they are smart enough and basketball savvy enough to come in and reflect back and know there was an awful lot of good that happened."

Sports on 11/23/2018

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.