FAYETTEVILLE – Junior Lauren Ervin registered her fourth double-double of the season and point guard Brittney Vaughn the first double of her career as the 25th-ranked University of Arkansas Lady Razorback basketball team battled to a 12-point, 70-58, win over Southern Methodist at Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday evening.
The win improves the Lady Razorbacks to 10-1 on the year while SMU falls to 6-3.
Ervin had 17 rebounds, one of the highest individual rebound totals in school history, along with 11 points, but her two defensive stops in the closing minutes were key to turning back the Mustangs’ upset bid.
“She takes a lot of pride in her rebounds, and 17 is a big night for anyone,” UA head coach Susie Gardner said. “Lauren has a knack for finding the ball, and that certainly was the case at the end of the game. I had challenged her to step up her game, and she got those two stops that were huge.”
Leading by only three, 60-57, with 2:30 to play, Ervin blocked one shot, picked up the rebound and fed a breakaway layup to Vaughn. Seconds later, Ervin’s pressure led to a Charity Ford steal and another layup, this time by Dominique Washington. After the flurry, SMU trailed by seven and never threatened again.
“Their defensive pressure is some of the best around,” SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola said. “We had all the opportunities with Arkansas coming off a big layoff.”
Along with Ervin’s double, Vaughn turned in 10 assists and 12 points for the first double of her career.
The nine-day break for finals showed from the opening tip as Arkansas missed its first eight shots including four from three-point range. Arkansas’ first basket came at 16:03 when Washington drained a three from the left corner. The shot sparked Arkansas to hit three of its next four shots to take its first lead 9-8. The mini run was the start of an 18-6 marathon that spanned nine minutes and allowed the Lady’Backs to build a nine-point lead.
As quickly as Arkansas earned its lead, SMU came right back with an 8-2 run of its own over two-plus minutes to come within three of the Lady Razorbacks at the final media timeout. SMU would come within one with just under a minute to play but a three by Washington at the buzzer made it a four-point contest.
The momentum gained with the buzzer-beating three by Washington on a clutch assist from Vaughn that carried over into the second half as Arkansas built a lead and then matched the Mustangs shot-for-shot. SMU did make a run to cut the lead to five, but a quick Arkansas counter built the advantage back to 10 with five minutes to play.
“That assist from Brittney was key at the end of the half,” Gardner said.
SMU would scratch their ways back once more, but turnovers on consecutive possessions proved to be the Mustangs undoing allowing Arkansas to rebuild its lead. The Lady Razorbacks were able to pull out the win despite a disturbing night shooting the rock. Arkansas hit just 27 of 74 shots for 36.5 percent and was worse from three-point land with just seven shots made in 28 attempts. Aiding the Lady Razorback efforts were 49 rebounds, 11 steals and 15 points off Mustang turnovers.
The Lady Razorbacks had four players in double figures. Washington led Arkansas with 14, mostly in the first half off three-pointers. Along with Vaughn and Ervin, Sarah Pfeifer added 10. SMU also had two players in double digits with Jillian Samuels scoring 14 and Katy Cobb, 13.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action on Saturday, Dec. 16; when they travel to Tulsa, Okla., to take on the Univ. of Tulsa. For more information about Lady Razorback basketball or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.