FAYETTEVILLE -- Sarah Watkins and Dominique Wilson scored in double figures for the University of Arkansas women's basketball team, but the Razorbacks fell in a close contest to No. 13/12 Georgia, 57-53.
The Razorbacks (13-5, 1-4 SEC) took an 11 point lead into halftime, but were unable to close out the Lady Bulldogs (16-2, 4-1 SEC) in the second half. The freshman Wilson tied her career high with 12 points, while the senior Watkins had a team high 14 points along with four blocks.
"In the first half we worked the ball well, made shots, and our defense was good," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "I've always felt like Dominique Wilson can score. She was making shots and she made things happen."
Georgia got out to the early advantage, but Wilson had the hot hand to put Arkansas into the lead. Wilson drained a three with the shot clock expiring, then knocked down a long two pointer on the next possession to put Arkansas up 8-5. After Georgia answered, Wilson and Calli Berna hit threes to propel Arkansas on a 14-0 run to push the lead to 22-9.
Wilson added another three to tie her career high with 12 points in the first period. The Razorbacks took a 30-19 lead into the locker room, spurred by exceptional defense. Arkansas held Georgia to just 25 percent shooting percentage in the first frame, had five steals, and forced six turnovers.
"We hit our shots and got stops in the first half," sophomore Berna said. "It showed a lot of heart, and we feel we can play with anyone."
Georgia got back into the game early in the second half with stronger shooting from the field. They came out of the locker room on a 20-8 run to take their first lead since early in the first at 39-38 with 9:17 remaining in the game. Watkins scored six consecutive points to help Arkansas retake the lead, and Quistelle Williams added a jumper to extend the advantage to 44-39.
However, the Lady Bulldogs countered over the next three minutes, going on a 8-0 run to take a 47-44 lead into the final media timeout. Watkins hit a jumper to cut into the lead, and totaled eight of her 14 points in the second half. However, Georgia pulled away down the stretch, scoring at the free throw line and finishing off the four point victory.
Arkansas finished with a slim 35-34 lead on the boards. The Razorbacks shot 41.2% from the field and had eight steals.
"We did a good job in our zone defense, but they adjusted in the second half," Collen said. "This team has the talent, they just have to display the willpower and execute."
The Razorbacks have a week off before their next game. Arkansas is in Columbia, Mo., on Jan. 24 for their first-ever conference matchup against Missouri.