Paul Boyd is a sports reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was voted Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2018.
UA women shrug at 30-point victory
Arkansas forward Taylah Thomas (24) pulls down a rebound during a game against New Orleans on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Fayetteville. Thomas recorded a career-high 21 rebounds, one shy of the school record for a single game.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The No. 22 University of Arkansas women's basketball team had few problems with New Orleans en route to an 82-52 season-opening victory Friday at Walton Arena, but Coach Mike Neighbors said he liked the way his players were nit-picking their performance.
Chelsea Dungee and Taylah Thomas helped the Razorbacks jump to an early lead and never look back in front of a crowd of 6,801, which included more than 5,500 elementary school students.
Women’s College Basketball
Arkansas 82, New Orleans 52
New Orleans: Deck 13, Pimpton 10, Larry 9, Franklin 6, Delgado 5, Woods 4, Bruce 3, Malone 2.
Arkansas: Dungee 22, Ramirez 12, Tolefree 11, Daniels 11, Thomas 10, Gaulden 5, Barnum 4, Reece 3, Doumbia 3, Davis 1.
3-point FG—New Orleans 8-16 (Deck 3), Arkansas 12-37 (Ramirez 4). Rebounds — New Orleans 34 (Larry 11), Arkansas 49 (21). Assists—New Orleans 11 (Pimpton 4), Arkansas 16 (Ramirez 4). Steals—New Orleans 8 (Pimpton 2), Arkansas 11 (Daniels, Ramirez 4). Blocked shots—New Orleans 6 (Larry 5), Arkansas 2 (Dungee 2). Turnovers—Pittsburg State 17 (DaMitz 5), Arkansas 7 (Daniels 2, Davis 2).
Technical Fouls: None. Fouled out: None. Officials: Mark Zentz, Kylie Galloway, Bryan Enterline.
Thomas registered a double-double with 10 points and a career-high 21 rebounds -- one shy of the single-game school record -- while Dungee had a game-high 22 points.
"The thing I liked best is in the past, after a 30-point win, our group would have been high-fiving and moving on to the next one," Neighbors said. "But I had a lot of kids say, 'Yeah, but.' Yeah but we turned it over too many times late. We were a little sloppy. We missed a few shots we normally hit. And I love the fact that's where we're at."
Neighbors praised the atmosphere with the young people but acknowledged his team could be better.
"Absolutely an A-plus to our marketing department and all the volunteers who got that pulled off today," Neighbors said. "I'd say a B-minus for us, maybe even a C. I don't think any of us feel like we played as well as we could. I'm not gonna make reasons."
Five different Razorbacks reached double figures. Amber Ramirez added 12 points on four three-pointers, while Alexis Tolefree and Makayla Daniels chipped in 11 apiece.
Arkansas led 26-12 after a quarter. The Razorbacks outscored New Orleans (0-2) 17-3 in the third quarter, finishing on a 15-1 run to lead 57-29 entering the fourth quarter.
Thomas, a 6-1 junior, came within a rebound of tying the Arkansas single-game record of 22 held by Shelly Wallace. She set the mark on Feb. 13, 1988, against SMU. Neighbors put Thomas back in the game late to try and get the record, but she came up short.
"Taylah wouldn't want it any other way other than earning it," Neighbors said. "If y'all know that kid, she's earned everything she's gotten. She was a late signing. A lot of schools overlooked her. We were lucky, absolutely lucky that she played for a former Lady Razorback [Kit Kyle Martin]. That when we got the job, she called us and we got her.
"I'm really happy for her. She came back in the best shape of anybody we had. For her to do that today, that was really cool."
Arkansas played without 6-1 senior Kiara Williams (foot) and 6-3 freshman Destinee Oberg (wrist), who suffered nonplaying-related injuries earlier this week.
Thomas said there was no added pressure being short on post players.
"I don't feel it at all," Thomas said. "I just felt like I had to step up to the plate and carry the team. I had to carry the talls. It's just something I had to do. I don't feel like it was a burden; it was just my role."
Neighbors said Oberg could be out six to eight weeks, while he's hoping Williams could return in a couple of weeks.
Arkansas will host McNeese State on Monday night. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
At a glance
ARKANSAS WOMEN (1-0)
DATE OPPONENT TIME/RESULT
Nov. 8 New Orleans W, 82-52
Nov. 11 McNeese State 7 p.m.
Nov. 14 Oral Roberts 7 p.m.
Nov. 17 Stony Brook 1 p.m.
Nov. 20 Belmont 7 p.m.
Nov. 24 at California 4 p.m.
Nov. 29 Fordham+ 3 p.m.
Nov. 30 Wisconsin+ 6 p.m.
Dec. 7 Kansas State# 2 p.m.
Dec. 11 Tulsa 6 p.m.
Dec. 15 NW (La.) State 2 p.m.
Dec. 21 UALR^ 1 p.m.
Dec. 29 Tenn.-Martin 2 p.m.
Jan. 2 Texas A&M* 8 p.m.
Jan. 5 at Auburn* 1 p.m.
Jan. 9 at South Carolina* 6 p.m.
Jan. 12 Missouri* 2 p.m.
Jan. 19 at Vanderbilt* 5 p.m.
Jan. 23 Georgia* 6 p.m.
Jan. 26 Florida* 2 p.m.
Jan. 30 at Alabama* 7 p.m.
Feb. 2 at Missouri* 2 p.m.
Feb. 6 South Carolina* 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 Kentucky* 3 p.m.
Feb. 16 at Mississippi* 2 p.m.
Feb. 20 Tennessee* 6 p.m.
Feb. 23 at Florida* 3 p.m.
Feb. 27 at Mississippi State* 8 p.m.
Mar. 1 LSU* 1 p.m.
Mar. 4-8 SEC Tournament, Greenville,
+at Bahamas Hoopfest, Nassau, Bahamas
#Big 12/SEC Challenge
^at Simmons Bank Arena, North Little
Sports on 11/09/2019
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