Arkansas scores game's final 17 to advance to SEC final

By: Matt Jones
Published: Saturday, March 9, 2019
Arkansas' Malica Monk (3) and Taylah Thomas (24) bring the ball up the court past Texas A&M's N'dea Jones during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Southeastern Conference women's tournament Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Arkansas' Malica Monk (3) and Taylah Thomas (24) bring the ball up the court past Texas A&M's N'dea Jones during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Southeastern Conference women's tournament Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Arkansas’ remarkable run at the Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament continued Saturday with a memorable comeback.

The Razorbacks outscored Texas A&M 17-0 over the final 6:30 and defeated the No. 15 Aggies 58-51 in the semifinals.

Arkansas trailed by as many as 16 points.

The Razorbacks will play No. 5 and top-seeded Mississippi State in the championship game Sunday at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs defeated Missouri 71-56 on Saturday.

Mississippi State (29-2) defeated the Razorbacks 93-69 on Jan. 3 in Fayetteville.

Arkansas (20-13) would advance to the NCAA Tournament with a win Sunday, but might have bolstered its resume enough to earn a tournament invite already with a great run at the SEC Tournament in Greenville, S.C.

The Razorbacks, which had lost eight of nine prior to the tournament, defeated No. 7 seed Georgia 86-76 on Thursday and No. 2 seed South Carolina 95-89 on Friday. The Aggies were the No. 3 seed and defeated Arkansas by 13 points in the regular-season finale six days earlier.

Arkansas is playing in the tournament championship for the first time and is the first No. 10 seed ever to advance to the final game.

Chelsea Dungee scored 17 points to lead Arkansas after a pair of 31-point efforts in the first two games of the tournament. Jailyn Mason added 15 points and Alexis Tolefree scored 11.

The Razorbacks forced six Texas A&M turnovers during its closing run and eight turnovers in the fourth quarter. The Aggies missed their final five field-goal attempts.

Trailing 51-41, Arkansas began the comeback with a 3-pointer by Raven Northcross-Baker with 6:15 remaining. After a turnover, Tolefree and Mason hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to pull within 51-50 with 4:12 remaining.

The Razorbacks took a 52-51 lead on two free throws by Mason with 3:03 to play and extended the lead to 55-51 on Dungee’s 3-pointer with 1:03 remaining. Arkansas made three of four free-throw attempts in the final minute.

Texas A&M (24-7) led by 16 points with 3:03 remaining in the second quarter, but Arkansas cut the lead to 29-21 at halftime.

Ciera Johnson scored 18 points to lead all scorers. Texas A&M was playing without the SEC’s leading scorer, Chennedy Carter, who injured her finger during the game against Arkansas last week.

The Razorbacks snapped a four-game losing streak to the Aggies and defeated Texas A&M for the first time under second-year coach Mike Neighbors.

Neighbors worked under Texas A&M coach Gary Blair while Blair was the Arkansas head coach. Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer was on the same staff.

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