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Arkansas drops battle with No. 10/8 Kentucky in overtime

Athletic Communications
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FAYETTEVILLE - Sarah Watkins' 25 points wasn't enough to lift the University of Arkansas women's basketball team, as they gave No. 10/8 Kentucky all they could handle at Bud Walton Arena on Thursday night. The Razorbacks pushed the Wildcats to the brink, but fell 80-74 in overtime. Arkansas had three players in double figures, led by Watkins with 25 points and freshman Dominique Wilson who had a career high 17 points. Arkansas fell to 15-8, 3-7 in the SEC, while Kentucky improved to 20-3 and 8-2 in the SEC.

Quistelle Williams had 18 points, and finished with a team high eight rebounds. Wilson's career high 17 was the most points by a Razorback freshman since Sarah Watkins scored 20 points versus Alcorn State on November 15, 2009 in Hot Springs, Ark..

"Wilson had a great game," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "She stepped up. She was aggressive. She came of age and hopefully she can keep it going."

After Kentucky scored the opening basket, Wilson scored five quick points to lead Arkansas on a 10-1 run. Arkansas was led by the strong play by Wilson and Watkins, who each hit double figures in the first 12 minutes of the game. The Razorbacks made 12 of their first 20 shots to jump out to a 30-19 lead.

With the defenses tightening before half, Kentucky closed the half on a 9-2 run over the final 6:52, but Arkansas took a 33-28 lead into the locker room. Watkins reached double figures in the first half for the fourth time this season, and Wilson had the second highest scoring half of her career.

The Razorbacks shot 48.1 percent from the field in the first half, and were led by 11 by Watkins and 10 by Wilson. Arkansas outrebounded Kentucky 17-16, and forced 10 turnovers on five steals and two blocks. 

In the second half, Kentucky opened on a 7-2 run to tie the score at 35. The Wildcats took advantage of six Razorback turnovers to take the lead at 44-42, their first lead of the night since hitting the game's opening basket. Arkansas responded, as Williams hit a three pointer and Wilson hit consecutive layups to take a 50-46 lead.

The Razorback run continued as Watkins drained her first three pointer of the year to extend the lead to 56-50 and cap a 9-2 run. UA made nine of their first 18 shots en route to a 60-54 lead with five minutes to play.

Kentucky answered with a 6-0 run, tying the game with 2:31 to play. Kentucky scored to take a 62-61 lead, but Williams answered with a layup and a free throw to take a 64- 62 lead with 50 seconds remaining. Kentucky answered with a bucket to tie the score with 25 seconds remaining. Arkansas called a timeout with five seconds left to draw up a final play, but Calli Berna couldn't get a good look and the game went to overtime.

In overtime, Kentucky pulled away from the Razorbacks. UK jumped out to a 75-68 lead before an Erin Gatling three cut the lead to four. Watkins hit another three pointer, but Kentucky finished off the six point victory. 

Arkansas shot 42.4 percent from the field for the game, and forced 17 turnovers on eight steals. They scored 14 points at the free throw line, and added six on threes.

"This is the third top 15 team that we've battled until the end," Collen said. "I give our kids a lot of credit for how they played tonight; we just couldn't get the win. We were slugging right with the No. 10 team in the country tonight. We've proven we can compete with these teams."

The Razorbacks hit the road this weekend, traveling to Tuscaloosa to face the Alabama Crimson Tide. Tip is at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

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