Arkansas routs ORU

By: Andrew Epperson
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Arkansas guard Jailyn Mason dribbles past an Arizona State defender during a game Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by David Beach
Arkansas guard Jailyn Mason dribbles past an Arizona State defender during a game Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Jailyn Mason was just a freshman in 2016 when Arkansas lost to Oral Roberts in a season that was by all definitions a disaster that resulted in a coaching change at the end of the season.

Two years later, Mason is just one of two players remaining from that time, and the junior played a big part in making sure there weren’t two home losses to the Golden Eagles during her career.

Mason scored 12 points Wednesday night in a 74-61 victory in Bud Walton Arena.

“We knew that it was going to be a fight, and they were going to come in here with some seniors that knew how to win, obviously, but we knew how to shut them out,” Mason said. “I think we executed our game plan to a ‘T,’ and that gave us the win today.”

The double-digit scoring effort was the second straight for Mason, who came into the game averaging 6 points per contest. With a shooter-heavy roster, the once score-first player has adapted her game to more of a facilitate-and-defend role. Oral Roberts’ initial focus on high-volume scorers like Chelsea Dungee, Malica Monk and Alexis Tolefree opened up the opportunity for Mason, Golden Eagles coach Misti Cussen said. Mason scored the opening points on a jumper and ultimately hit 2-for-2 from behind the 3-point line.

“When I came in here, I did not give the kid enough credit early in her career. I just didn’t watch enough,” said Razorbacks second-year coach Mike Neighbors, who took over for Jimmy Dykes after the 2016 season. “I call her a fungus because she just grows on you and spreads. She’s our best communicator on defense, and when teams actively try to take away our other options, she’s standing right there and is just solid for us every night.”

While ORU knew Dungee and Monk could score the ball, its defense still couldn’t consistently stop them.

Dungee led the team with 21 points after a strong 15-point second half. Monk added 17 of her own to round out the Hogs’ double-digit scorers.

“Just so many threats around the floor, it’s hard for anybody to guard us, really,” Mason said. “You have to pick your poison with our team.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Razorbacks (5-2) forced 19 turnovers, many coming in the form of traveling violations that were a result of double teams on screens and active hands. ORU’s KeniJo Lippe came off the bench to lead all scorers with 23. Montserrat Brotons proved to be a factor inside, pouring in 16 and adding 7 rebounds.

Maya Mayberry, a Fayetteville grad, added 7 points.

“The game plan was to not let them even attempt threes,” Neighbors said. “We were going to sacrifice a few 2’s around the basket. When we looked up at halftime, they only had four 3-point attempts, and one of them was at the buzzer, so that was game plan executed perfectly.”

TIP-INS

• Dungee has scored in double figures in all seven of Arkansas’ games. She’s averaging 16.2 points per games to lead the Hogs.

• The Razorbacks came into the game shooting 60.3 percent from the free-throw line, but they recorded an impressive 24-for-29 Wednesday.

• After forcing Oral Roberts to turn the ball over 14 times last season in a 77-66 win, the Razorbacks increased that number to 19 a year later. Coming into the game, the Hogs were forcing opponents into 20.5 turnovers per game.

UP NEXT

The Razorbacks travel to No. 23 Iowa State for a nonconference matchup on Dec. 2. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

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