Ethan Westerman is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He has bachelor's degrees in journalism and marketing from the University of Arkansas.
Scott drops 34, UA women down A-State on road by 15
Arkansas guard Taliah Scott shoots the ball Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, during the Razorbacks' 82-67 victory over Arkansas State at First National Bank Arena in Jonesboro.
JONESBORO — Arkansas guard Taliah Scott scored 34 points and the Razorbacks’ women’s basketball team defeated Arkansas State 82-67 on Friday night at First National Bank Arena.
Scott, a 5-9 freshman from Orange Park, Fla., was 12 of 21 from the field and perfect on 9 free-throw attempts. She recorded a season-high point total, besting her 29-point outing in the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe.
“She's definitely one of the best freshmen in the country, there's no doubt about it,” Arkansas State coach Destinee Rogers said. “I admire her game. I think the thing I admire the most about her is her confidence and her swag. She was 1 for 9 from the three and she still scored 34 points.
“That comes down to, ‘I'm not hitting shots, but I'm going to get to the basket and I'm going to make it happen another way.' I admire that confidence.”
The Razorbacks (4-0) and Red Wolves went back-and-forth early. Arkansas State led 11-5 with 3:49 left in the first quarter — its largest advantage of the game — before Arkansas woke up offensively.
Arkansas scored nine points in the quarter’s final three minutes and took its first lead, 16-15, when Carly Keats hit a three-pointer before the buzzer.
The team’s ability to shake off a cold start was something that pleased seventh-year Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors.
“I’m proud of them because it's not easy to go on the road, period,” Neighbors said. “Just look around what's happening all over the country…. I thought there was no panic over there when things were going, not bad, but just not our way.
“But that's all really responsible [of Arkansas State]. I mean, they've got a real solid group [and] I'm anxious to follow them throughout their year to see how they do in the league.”
A turning point came midway through the second quarter when Arkansas junior forward Emrie Ellis connected on back-to-back threes to cap a 10-0 run and put the Razorbacks ahead 38-28. She and 6-4 forward Maryam Dauda were a combined 5 of 8 from three-point range.
“They stepped up and they hit some shots,” Rogers said. “Our game plan was to pack it in the paint, try to keep them out of the paint and force them to hit something. And they did, so hats off to them.”
Arkansas State (1-2) got back within single digits before halftime, helped in large part by 13 second-quarter points from Izzy Higginbottom, who finished with a team-high 27 points.
“She is just a master at her craft,” Neighbors said. “She's so good at using defenses against themselves. Like, she gets you so amped up, she gets you up in the air and then steps through you and draws a little contact. She reminds me of what [Chelsea] Dungee used to do.”
Fifth-year Arkansas guard Makayla Daniels opened the third quarter with consecutive three-pointers to give Arkansas a 48-33 lead. It was the beginning of a hot-shooting second half for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas was 54.2% from the floor over the final two quarters and led by as many as 21.
“Our defense got an 'F' tonight,” Rogers said. "It wasn't good. We're so much better defensively, and I hate that we didn't prove that tonight.
"All principles went out the window because they had that confidence and that swag, and they hit a couple of shots, and it got us out of our principles. But we're going to get back to what we do and we're going to work at it. We know that hard work is going to pay off.”
The Red Wolves opened the fourth quarter on a 13-2 run and pulled back within 72-62 with 5:22 left to play. Arkansas outscored the hosts by five from there.
“They stepped up to it and they wanted to prove that they're the best team in the state,” Rogers said. “They proved that tonight.
Saylor Poffenbarger (9 points, 14 rebounds) and Dauda (11 points, 9 rebounds) each had a near double-double for the Razorbacks. Samara Spencer and Daniels combined for 17 points, as the guard trio with Scott accounted for 62% of Arkansas’ scoring.
Lauryn Pendleton had 11 points for the Red Wolves, and Kendra Gillispie recorded 9 points and 11 rebounds.
Arkansas is scheduled to host Central Arkansas on Monday at 7 p.m.
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