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UA women open season in Pine Bluff
Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors is shown during an exhibition game against Arkansas-Fort Smith on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE— For the first time since 2006, the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team is beginning its season on the road, taking on Arkansas-Pine Bluff today at 6 p.m. at Clemmons Arena in Pine Bluff.
The teams met a season ago and Arkansas won convincingly, 96-53, but face a new-look Golden Lions squad today. UAPB fourth-year coach Dawn Thornton has assembled a revamped roster that includes two former 5-star recruits, Zaay Green and Maori Davenport.
Arkansas junior guard Rylee Langerman said the team is not paying any attention to last season’s result.
“That's something we're really emphasizing because they are really an entirely new team,” Langerman said. “They have some amazing transfers, so it's going to be a really good game, especially in the environment that we're going to play in. You can't even really compare it to last year at all. It's a completely different game.”
Clemmons Arena, which seats 4,100 people after a renovation in 2019, is sold out for the game.
“I hope it gives an opportunity for people that may not be able to make it to Northwest Arkansas to see a home game, and then draw in see their own local team,” Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said. “This is a fun team to watch.
“I'm going to pull for Pine Bluff every game of the year except for Monday night. I hope they do the same for us. I think that helps grow women's basketball in all in all areas of our state.”
The “loaded” roster Neighbors alluded to includes eight Division 1 transfers. Green, who was the nation’s 10th-overall recruit in the class of 2018, played for Tennessee and Texas A&M before landing in Pine Bluff. Davenport was ranked the 14th-best player in the class of 2019 and previously played for Rutgers and Georgia.
Another newcomer, Coriah Beck, played in 28 games for Memphis last year. She was a standout at Fayetteville High School and is the daughter of legendary Razorback men’s basketball player Corey Beck.
“With our guys practice team, we've been telling them that we're preparing for an SEC caliber team there,” Neighbors said. “There is a formidable roster awaiting us down there at Pine Bluff, and I know what a job Dawn and her staff do.”
It’s the first time in program history the Razorbacks will play a game in Pine Bluff.
Neighbors said he has fond memories of the city. He referenced an iconic moment in Arkansas men’s basketball history in 1984, when the team upset Michael Jordan and the top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. The game, played at the Pine Bluff Convention Center, was decided after Charles Balentine hit a game-winning shot with four seconds left.
“I may or may not have a big picture of Charles Balentine banking one in against North Carolina hanging at my house,” Neighbors said.
The Razorbacks and Golden Lions tip off tonight at 6 p.m., with the game streaming live on the UAPB Sports Network.
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