Sharp-shooting day: Ramirez’s 35 points pave way

By: PAUL BOYD NWA DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Monday, March 1, 2021
Arkansas guard Amber Ramirez (23) shoots during a game against Alabama on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Fayetteville.
( David Beach/Special to the Democrat-Gazette )
Arkansas guard Amber Ramirez (23) shoots during a game against Alabama on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — The No. 16 University of Arkansas women’s basketball team celebrated Senior Day in record fashion on Sunday evening in Walton Arena.

The Razorbacks drilled a SEC and school-record 19 three-pointers en route to a 94-76 victory over Alabama in front of a covid-19 sellout crowd of 4,400.

Amber Ramirez led the long-range shooting barrage by pouring in a career-high 35 points, including eight three-pointers, while fellow seniors Chelsea Dun-gee added 20 points and Destiny Slocum chipped in

  1. Dungee and Slocum each hit four three-pointers.

Ramirez helped supply the knockout punch, scoring 12 points in a 17-3 fourth-quarter run, to allow Arkansas Coach Mike Neighbors to clear the bench in the final minute and send the starters out with a flourish.

Alabama pulled within 70-65 on Ariyah Copeland’s basket inside with 7:18 left in the fourth quarter. But Ramirez, a 5-9 guard from San Antonio, converted a three-point play to start that big run that ended with her making another jumper to put Arkansas in control 87-68 with 2:45 left.

UP NEXT vs. Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C.

Ramirez said her teammates continued to have faith in her despite a couple of sub-par games recently, and that helped her stayed confident.

“My teammates kept giving me the ball, and once I saw the first one go in and the second one go in after that, I was like, ‘All right, it’s gonna be a good night,’ ” said Ramirez, who scored 23 points and hit seven three-pointers in the first half.

Ramirez made 12 of 19 shots from the floor and 8 of 14 from beyond the three-point arc. The eight three-pointers were one off the single-game school record held by Wendi Willits, who hit nine in a game in 1999. Ramirez broke Willits’ single-season record of 106 three-pointers in a season last year. That mark had stood for more than 20 years.

She recalled one other game in her career where she shot almost as well but then admitted this game was different.

“Every time I put the ball up I felt like, ‘Dang, this is going in.’ So I was just feeling it tonight. My teammates kept giving me confidence, Coach Neighbors kept giving me the ball and I just kept knocking down shots.” The Razorbacks normally score their share of points in the paint thanks to an aggressive driving style, but they leaned on the perimeter with Alabama’s zone cutting down driving lanes much of the night. Arkansas made 19 of 39 three-pointers and were 12 of 24 from two-point range.

Neighbors said he was pleased with how his team kept their emotions in check and took care of business even when Alabama fought back in the second half.

“It’s so hard to play well on a night like tonight with so many emotions,” Neighbors said. “But I thought from the get-go there was a special feeling and it just continued throughout.

“I told them this is why you’ve played the way you’ve played so you can withstand that run and still be ahead. … The fact that we’ve been there. The fact that we’ve got a lot of upperclassmen. We got a lot of confident kids. Just keep giving them confidence and let’em go do what we’ve been doing all year long.” Makayla Daniels was the fourth Razorback player in double figures with 15 points. The 5-9 sophomore also grabbed a team-best nine rebounds. Slocum, who was 4 of 4 from three-point range, also dished out a game-high seven assists.

Copeland, a 6-3 senior, led the Crimson Tide with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Jordan Lewis added 15, Jasmine Walker 12 and Destiny Rice 11.

Arkansas (19-7, 9-6 SEC) secured the No. 6 seed in this week’s SEC Tournament with the victory and will take on Ole Miss in the second game of the night session Thursday evening in Greenville, S.C.

Alabama (15-8, 8-8) wiped out most of a 21-point first-half deficit, pulling within 51-47 after opening the second half with eight consecutive points. But Arkansas had an answer each time and allowed Alabama to get no closer.

The Razorbacks put together a 12-0 spurt aided by a technical foul on Alabama Coach Kristy Curry that led to a 49-28 advantage. But Alabama answered with an 11-0 run and got within 48-39 on Copeland’s free throw with 2:14 left in the second quarter.

Dungee drained the Razorbacks’ 14th three-pointer of the half to push the lead back to double digits, as Arkansas settled for a 51-39 halftime lead.

Box score

ALABAMA M FG FT O-R PF A PTS

Abrams 23 3-6 2-4 0-2 3 1 8 Lewis 34 5-11 2-3 1-4 1 2 15 Barber 35 4-9 0-0 0-3 1 3 9 Copeland 30 7-14 4-6 4-13 0 3 18 Walker 32 4-14 3-4 4-9 0 2 12 Sutton 9 1-2 0-0 0-1 1 0 3 Rice 15 5-8 1-2 1-3 2 0 11 Cruce 8 0-0 0-0 1-2 0 0 0 Gordon 13 0-1 0-0 0-2 1 2 0 Team 1-2

Totals 200 29-65 12-19 12-41 10 13 76

PCT. — FG 44.6, FT 63.2. 3-PT. — 6-19, 31.6 (Lewis 3-5, Sutton 1-1, Barber 1-4, Walker 1-6, Abrams 0-1, Gordon 0-1, Rice 0-1). BL — 2 (Copeland 1, Rice 1). TO — 12 (Copeland 4). ST — 3 (Abrams 1, Barber 1, Rice 1).

ARKANSAS M FG FT O-R PF A PTS

Slocum 33 6-8 1-1 1-3 3 7 17 Ramirez 36 12-19 3-4 0-3 0 2 35 Thomas 25 1-2 0-0 1-4 2 0 2 Dungee 34 7-20 2-2 0-2 4 3 20 Daniels 32 4-10 4-5 0-9 1 1 15 Davis 7 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 2 Barnum 14 0-1 0-0 1-6 2 1 0 Langerman 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Spangler 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Mason 15 0-1 0-0 0-1 1 1 0 Hughes 1 0-0 3-3 0-0 0 0 3 Oberg 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Weaver 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Team 1-3

Totals 200 31-63 13-15 4-31 13 16 94

PCT. — FG 49.2, FT 86.7. 3-PT. — 19-39, 48.7 (Ramirez 8-14, Slocum 4-4, Dungee 4-10, Daniels 3-8, Davis 0-1, Mason 0-1, Thomas 0-1). BL — 6 (Thomas 3). TO — 8 (Slocum 3). ST — 5 (Daniels 2, Dungee 2).

Alabama...............17 22 19 18 — 76 Arkansas...............26 25 16 27 — 94 Technical foul — Alabama team Officials — Dickerson, Lukanich, Hall Attendance — 4,400

SEC women’s tournament

At Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C.

(Seeds in parentheses)

All times Central

WEDNESDAY’S FIRST ROUND GAME 1 (13) Auburn vs. (12) Florida, 3 p.m.

THURSDAY’S SECOND ROUND GAME 2 (9) Miss. State vs. (8) LSU, 10 a.m.

GAME 3 (5) Kentucky vs. Game 1 winner

Will start 25 minutes after Game 2

GAME 4 (10) Missouri vs. (7) Alabama, 5 p.m.

GAME 5 (11) Mississippi vs. (6) Arkansas

Will start 25 minutes after Game 4

FRIDAY’S QUARTERFINALS GAME 6 (1) Texas A&M vs. Game 2 winner, 10 a.m.

GAME 7 (4) Georgia vs. Game 3 winner

Will start 25 minutes after Game 6

GAME 8 (2) South Carolina vs. Game 4 winner GAME 9 (3) Tennessee vs. Game 5 winner

Will start 25 minutes after Game 8

SATURDAY’S SEMIFINALS GAME 10 Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 3 p.m.

GAME 11 Game 8 winner vs. Game 9 winner

Will start 25 minutes after Game 10

SUNDAY’S CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 12 Game 10 winner vs. Game 11 winner, 1 p.m.

NOTE SEC Network will televise games Wednesday-Friday. ESPNU will televise Saturday’s games and ESPN2 will televise Sunday’s game.

On the inside

UA WOMEN in line to receive top-four seed. Page 7C.

SEC WOMEN’S tournament schedule. Page 7C.

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