Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Arkansas posts 197, but Alabama better
Arkansas gymnast Kennedy Hambrick competes during an NCAA gymnastics meet against LSU on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021 in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas followed up its school record score with another 197 on Friday, but the No. 6 Razorbacks could not keep up with No. 7 Alabama after a rough first rotation.
The Crimson Tide stretched their win streak in the series to eight with a 197.325 to 197.0 victory before a crowd of 1,241 on senior night at Barnhill Arena. Alabama (6-1) will host Florida next week with a shot at tying for the SEC championship, while Arkansas (2-5) will close out the regular season at Auburn.
The Crimson Tide were led by all-around winner Louisa Blanco (39.55), who also won the vault with a 9.9.
Arkansas made a big push in the final rotation with another huge floor exercise score of 49.575, led by four 9.925s from event winners Sophia Carter, Kennedy Hambrick, Sarah Shaffer and Abby Johnston. Alabama hardly conceded ground, notching a 49.55 on the balance beam, its highest score on the event since 2017, overcoming a fall from Makarri Doggette.
The Arkansas junior Hambrick, who set the school record with a 39.7 in the all-around last week, could not keep that pace against the Crimson Tide.
Hambrick had a fall on the vault and posted 9.725 on the bars. But she rebounded with a 9.95 on the balance beam, tying the career high she set last week, to win the event, then also tied her teammates for the floor title.
She scored 38.875 in the all-around to place fourth behind Blanco and Alabama's Lexi Graber (39.4) and Shania Adams (39.35).
The Crimson Tide seized a sizable early lead of 0.475 by notching a 49.325 from its uneven bars team, led by 9.9s from Mati Waligora and Doggette. The Razorbacks struggled to a 48.85 on the vault, with no scores higher than the 9.8s by Shaffer and Savannah Pennese.
Arkansas trimmed 0.2 points off its deficit with solid work on the bars in the second rotation. Maggie O'Hara won the event with a 9.95 in the anchor position, while Jensen Scalzo posted a 9.875 and Kiara Gianfagna a 9.85.
Arkansas could not pick up ground in rotation three with a 49.25 on the balance beam. No one besides Hambrick could exceed 9.9 on the event, with Maggie O'Hara and Kiara Gianfagna scoring 9.875s. Alabama gained ground with its 49.325 on the floor exercise. Graber led the way with a 9.9.
No. 7 Alabama 197.325, No. 6 Arkansas 197.0
Rotation 1: Alabama 49.325 uneven bars, Arkansas 48.85 vault
Rotation 2: Arkansas 49.325 uneven bars, Alabama 49.125 vault
Rotation 3: Alabama 49.275 floor exercise, Arkansas 49.25 beam
Rotation 4: Arkansas 49.575 floor exercise, Alabama 49.55 beam
Totals: Alabama 197.325, Arkansas 197.0
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