FAYETTEVILLE - The University of Arkansas women's basketball team hits the road this weekend, traveling to Nashville, Tenn., for a conference matchup against Vanderbilt. The Razorbacks enter the game at 13-3, 1-2 SEC, while Vanderbilt is 12-4, and also 1-2 in the SEC.
The Razorbacks earned their first conference win on Thursday night, defeating LSU 63-54 at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas was led by a career high 14 points by senior Erin Gatling
, who moved into the starting lineup for the first time in her UA career. Quistelle Williams
posted a career high 12 rebounds, and added 13 points for her third double-double of the season.
"Getting a win against LSU was really crucial to us," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen
said. "Knowing that we're getting ready to go on the road and play an NCAA tournament caliber team in Vanderbilt, you have to do everything you can to take care of business at home and beat teams when you have the opportunity. We took advantage of that opportunity against LSU."
The victory over the Tigers gave Arkansas a chance to regain some momentum before heading back on the road. The Razorbacks are on the road for three of their next five games.
"It's a little easier when you are coming off a win," senior Sarah Watkins
said. "Everyone is in a better mood. It's easier to come in and practice and stay focused."
Gatling's career night from the field continued a trend for Arkansas of getting scoring from a variety of different sources. Gatling became the eighth different player to lead the Razorbacks in points this season, and the fourth different leading scorer in the past five games. UA has three players averaging double digits in scoring, as different players have stepped up on different nights.
"There are seven or eight players on the team capable of stepping up and scoring double figures on a given night," Collen said. "This team is not going to be same player night in, night out. If we are going to be successful, we will need multiple players to step up and score.
The Commodores are another challenging opponent, especially at home. They have won 12 straight home games dating back to last season, and are 25-2 at home over the past two seasons. Vanderbilt is led by the duo of Tiffany Clarke (15.8 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game) and Christina Foggie (15.1 points per game). Arkansas won the lone meeting between the two squads last season 69-47, snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Commodores.
"Vanderbilt is an excellent team," Collen said. "We beat them here last year in a really good game. They're a team that aspires to win the SEC Championship every year, so it's a tough battle. They're going to be motivated to take care of business, so it's going to be a tough game, but it's a game we can win.