Rick Fires is a reporter and columnist for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Dungee scores 31 as UA women roll
Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors directs his players against Pittsburg State Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, during the second half of play in Bud Walton Arena.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas women's basketball team celebrated its national ranking Wednesday with an exhibition victory.
Chelsea Dungee poured in 31 points to lead the University of Arkansas past Oklahoma City 77-62 in an exhibition before a crowd of 1,587 at Walton Arena. The game comes on the heels of a 97-63 exhibition victory over Pittsburg State and gives Arkansas momentum entering its season opener at home against New Orleans on Nov. 8.
Arkansas 77, Oklahoma City 63
Oklahoma City: Selzer 18, Seagler 17, Lockhard 13, Taylor 5, Hammons 4, Ankey 4, Sylvester 2.
Arkansas: Dungee 31, Ramirez 15, Thomas 9, Daniels 5, Williams 4, Davis 3, Tolefree 3, Barnum 3, Golden 2, Doumbia 2.
3-Point Goals: Oklahoma City 7-20 (Lockhart 3, Seagler 3), Arkansas 10-28 (Dungee 6). Rebounds: Oklahoma City 33 (Selzer 6, Taylor 6, Sylvester 6), Arkansas 32 (Ramirez 6). Turnovers: Oklahoma City 15 (Taylor 6), Arkansas 13 (Dungee 3). Technical Fouls: None.
Officials: Tina Napier, Scott Yarbrough, Natasha Camy.
Arkansas is ranked No. 22 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll that was released Wednesday morning. It is the first time Arkansas has been ranked in the poll since January 2014.
Arkansas finished 22-15 last spring in the second season for Coach Mike Neighbors.
"I know a lot of coaches start downplaying polls in the preseason, but it means a lot to this particular team," Neighbors said. "Some teams have been ranked forever. But when you've got a locker room full of kids who have not done it, it does mean something. "
Dungee showed Wednesday why she is considered one of the top players in the country. The junior from Sapulpa, Okla., scored 31 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including 6 of 9 on three-point attempts.
She scored her 26th point in the third quarter when she drained a three-pointer in front of the Arkansas bench. Arkansas needed someone else to provide points, and backcourt mate Amber Ramirez delivered with 15, all in the second half.
Oklahoma City is no slouch. The Stars finished 33-5 last season after losing to Montana Western in the NAIA national championship game. Three starters return, including Abby Selzer, who scored 17 points.
"We knew what we were getting into," Neighbors said. "We needed to be exposed to a team that's got SEC size, and they've got experience. It was a job well done by them, but I thought every time they made a little run, we made one, too."
Oklahoma City trailed 40-37 at halftime.
Dungee hit another three-pointer in the third quarter before Ramirez followed from beyond the arc, then added two short jumpers, to give Arkansas a 61-49 lead.
"In the first quarter, I picked up two fouls and didn't get to play a whole lot," said Ramirez, a transfer from TCU. "It took me out of my rhythm a bit, but I had the confidence to keep shooting, and that's what I did in the second half."
Dungee echoed what her coach said about the preseason ranking.
"We earned that [ranking] from last season," Dungee said. "We're excited, but we have to win games. That's what it's going to come down to."
Sports on 10/31/2019
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