FAYETTEVILLE – Kelsey Brooks came off the bench to score 15 points and record seven steals, as the University of Arkansas women's basketball team (16-7, 3-7 SEC) got back in the win column with a 55-49 victory over Florida (16-7, 6-4 SEC) at Bud Walton Arena on Thursday night.
The most steals in a single game by a Razorback since Calli Berna had seven takeaways of her own earlier in the season, Brooks came one short of the Arkansas SEC record for single-game strips and helped the Razorbacks force the Gators into 25 turnovers.
Brooks reached her highest point total since scoring 13 points back on Dec. 20, 2013, at home against Tennessee Tech.
Fellow freshmen Jessica Jackson and McKenzie Adams also reached double digits, as Jackson finished with 13 points and six rebounds, while Adams contributed 10 points of her own.
Coming off a season-low 32 percent shooting performance at home against Auburn, the Razorbacks appeared much more locked in to start against the Gators. Both Arkansas and Florida came out shooting above 40 percent from the floor, as both teams remained tied 8-8 with 14 minutes to play in the first half. Keira Peak had a then-game-high six points.
A 9-2 run from the Razorbacks helped them create a 17-13 lead with just under 10 minutes to play in the half. Adams joined in on the scoring and quickly added six points on 3-for-3 shooting, while fellow freshman Brooks came in off the bench and added a 3-pointer. In nine minutes off the bench, Brooks ended the first half with a team-high eight points, three steals and two rebounds.
Florida dominated the paint, outscoring Arkansas 20-to-6 on points in the paint and also out-rebounded the Razorbacks 21-to-12 in the first half.
The Razorbacks opened the second half 0-for-9 from the field and were held scoreless until Brooks finally got an and-1 bucket to go with 14:37 left in the game.
After dealing with foul trouble most of the first half, Jackson began to come to life in the second half and helped the Razorbacks regain their first lead since halftime, 37-36, with 11:20 to play. Playing big inside, Jackson had eight points behind efficient 4-for-5 shooting.
Florida struggled to hang onto both the basketball and its lead in the second half, as an 11-4 push from Arkansas helped them build a 39-36 lead at the under 10-minute mark. The Gators were forced into a total of 19 turnovers, while the Razorbacks had just made nine mistakes at that point of the game.
Brooks continued to find her range from outside and hit another big three-pointer late, which was then followed by a basket inside from Jackson to give her double digits (10 points) and Arkansas its largest lead of the game at 50-42 with 3:41 to play.
Closing the game with a total of 12 steals, the Razorbacks kept the Gators at bay and would hold on to win for a much needed confidence boost at home before heading on the road again to face No. 6 South Carolina on Sunday.
McKenzie Adams hit a three-pointer after a good screen tying the game at 42-all with 8:35 to play. Arkansas went on a 9-0 run that put the game out of reach for Florida. The Gators closed the gap to three briefly but the Razorbacks finished with a 13-7 run for the win.
STAT OF THE GAME
Arkansas forced Florida into 25 turnovers on the night, including 12 steals. Kelsey Brooks recorded seven steals alone.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
The freshmen trio of Kelsey Brooks, Jessica Jackson and McKenzie Adams was huge in the team’s win over Florida. The three combined for 38 of the team’s 55 points, led by a 15-point outburst off the bench from Brooks. Adams reached double digits for the first time since Jan. 12, while Jackson reached double figures for the 21st time this season.
QUOTING COACH TOM COLLEN
“It feels good and these players needed it really bad, the coaching staff needed it and I think the fans needed it,” Collen said of the win. “Things got tight a little bit, but we pulled away and did what we needed to do. It’s always a lot easier to go back into practice every day when you’re coming off of a win.”
- Kelsey Brooks recorded 15 points, four rebounds and seven steals. Her seven steals were the most in a game by a Razorback since teammate Calli Berna had seven takeaways earlier this season against MTSU. It was also the most points scored by Brooks since she had 13 points Dec. 20, 2013 at home against Tennessee Tech. The freshman has hit at least three 3-pointers in four games this season.
- Jessica Jackson scored 13 points on 62.5 percent shooting and had six rebounds. The freshman continued her impressive scoring stretch, as she reached double figures for the 21st time in 23 games this season.
- McKenzie Adams scored 10 points and reached double figures for the first time since scoring 18 points against Mississippi State at home on Jan. 12.
- Three Razorbacks (Brooks, Jackson, Adams) reached double-digit scoring for the first time since Jan. 26, 2014, at Kentucky.
- Calli Berna scored five points and also added eight assists to bump her season assist total to 169. Berna moved closer to breaking the program’s class record for most assists by a junior in a season. Amy Wright had 198 assists as a junior. Averaging 7.5 assists per game and with eight games left, Berna is well on pace to erasing Wright’s mark for her own.
- Berna now has 465 career assists, which ranks fifth all-time in program history.
- The Gators came in averaging 78.1 points per game, but the Razorbacks allowed them just 49 points in the win. Arkansas is first in the SEC and second in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of just 51.5 points per game this season.
- The 49 points against Arkansas marked a new season-low point total for Florida. The Razorbacks have now held 11 of their opponents this season to season lows. The previous season-low total for the Gators was 59 points, which also came against the Razorbacks on Jan. 9 in Gainesville, Fla.
- Arkansas has held 15 of 23 opponents this season to more turnovers than field goals. The Gators were forced into 25 turnovers and converted just 18 field goals.
- Arkansas is now 1-2 this season in games decided by 5-9 points.
- Arkansas is now 13-2 this season when its finishes with more three-pointers than its opponent. The Razorbacks were 5-for-17 from 3PT, while the Gators were 3-for-11.
- Arkansas improved to 15-3 this season when leading at halftime. The Razorbacks held a 28-26 lead at the break.
- Arkansas improved to 12-3 at home this season, including 2-3 in conference play.
- The Razorbacks earned their first Thursday win of the season and are now 1-4 this season for games played on that day of the week.
- Tom Collen is 345-156 overall in 16 seasons as a head coach and 128-86 in seven years at Arkansas.
- Arkansas is now 9-23 all-time against Florida, including a 5-9 record in Fayetteville.
POSTGAME TWEETABLES (140 Characters Or Less)
- Thank you to @RazorbackWBB fans for supporting the team despite the snowy weather. We appreciate you. #GoHOGS
- Kelsey Brooks was huge off the bench for @RazorbackWBB, recording 15 pts, 7 stls in the win over Florida on Thursday. #GoHOGS
- Jessica Jackson continues her impressive freshman season for @RazorbackWBB, recording her 1st game of 10+ points this season. #GoHOGS
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The Razorbacks hit the road again for a game at South Carolina on Feb. 9 with a 1 p.m. tip.