LAWRENCE, Kan. – Keira Peak
tied her season-high with 20 points to lead four Razorbacks in double-digit scoring, as the University of Arkansas women's basketball team (9-0) earned a 64-53 road win over Kansas (4-4) inside Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan., on Wednesday night.
Hitting a key three-pointer late in the game and adding clutch free throws to close it out, freshman Jessica Jackson
scored 15 points, junior Calli Berna
poured in 14 points and Wichita, Kan., native junior Jhasmin Bowen
added 10 points in the win. The group marked the fifth time in nine games this season in which four Razorbacks reached double digits.
“We’ve had a lot of quizzes and we aced all the quizzes. This was our first test,” head coach Tom Collen
said. “I wouldn’t say we got an A-plus, but I would say we might have gotten an A or an A-minus. I think we made some mistakes, but we survived, fought them off and made free throws when we needed them. I couldn’t be more pleased with them in their first test.”
Kansas cut the Arkansas lead to 52-47 with 3:23 left to play, but it was Jackson with a late three-pointer that brought the Jayhawk faithful back down into their seats, as the Razorbacks extended their lead back to 57-51 with just under two minutes to play. Jackson and Berna added key free throws late to preserve the win and keep the Razorbacks unbeaten.
Arkansas opened the night with a 9-5 lead by the first media timeout. Peak led all scorers early with five points, including a nice drive to the basket with contact for the and-1 bucket. Bowen and Jackson chipped in with two points each, as the Razorbacks began on 44 percent shooting from the floor.
The top-ranked defense in the country went to work early, as the Razorbacks held the Jayhawks to just 18 percent (2-for-11) shooting and five turnovers over the first eight minutes. Kansas natives Kelsey Brooks
and Bowen each recorded an early steal, as the Jayhawks were held to just 14 points over the first 15 minutes and AU opened up a 21-14 lead.
Whether it was coming up with steals on defense, drawing charges or just scoring the basketball, Peak carried the Razorbacks on the road in the first half. The lone senior finished the first frame with 11 points on 55 percent (5-9 FG) shooting, adding in two rebounds, a block and a steal.
Trailing since holding the early 3-2 lead, an offensive resurgence from the Jayhawks helped them regain the lead with 17 seconds left in the half. Berna responded by drawing a foul and hitting pair of free throws with four seconds to go, giving the Razorbacks a 31-30 lead at the break. Berna (5 pts), Bowen (5) and Jackson (7) combined for 17 points in the first half.
Kansas took a 37-36 lead with 15:07 to play, as CeCe Harper was up to 13 points on 55 percent shooting, adding four rebounds and four assists. The Jayhawks received a boost from their bench, outscoring the Razorback reserves 10-0. Turnovers evened up as well, with both teams committing 12 mistakes.
Veterans Peak and Berna took over in the second half, as the two combined for 11 of the Razorbacks’ 14 points out of halftime and helped boost UA’s lead to 45-41 with 11:56 left. Berna was a perfect 2-for-2 with two second-half assists, while Peak was 3-for-4 and hauled down two rebounds.
After the Razorbacks had built up a nine-point lead, a mini 6-2 run from the Jayhawks helped tighten the game back up at 52-47 with 3:23 to play. Berna, Jackson and Peak came up with key plays down the stretch to finish things off late, as the Razorbacks fended off a late Jayhawk rally and came out with the road victory. Arkansas finished the game on a 10-0 run to secure the victory.
Having played three straight road games in six days, Arkansas returns home for a five-game homestand to close out its non-conference schedule, beginning with Northwestern State (4-2) on Dec. 7. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside Bud Walton Arena.
For more information on Arkansas women’s basketball, follow @RazorbackWBB on Twitter.