FAYETTEVILLE -- The rims of Bud Walton Arena were unkind to Jessica Jackson on Thursday night, as the freshman saw her late-game heroics roll off the cylinder and the University of Arkansas women's basketball team (17-9, 4-9 SEC) fell 56-50 to No. 25 Vanderbilt (18-8, 7-6 SEC).
Despite scoring a game-high 18 points and a pair of free throws to make things interesting late, Jackson's last-second shot attempt was off the mark and the Razorbacks missed two opportunities to tie the game in the final 11 seconds. After Rayte'a Long missed a pair of free throws for VU, the Razorbacks had a chance to tie or win the game on a final possession, but Jackson's driving layup baseline slid off the rim and an offensive rebound was unused as McKenzie Adams was off the mark on a jumper and the Commodores held on for the win.
Jackson also recorded seven rebounds, five assists and tied a career-high with five blocks on the night, but it was not enough as the Commodores outscored the Razorbacks 40-to-18 on points in the paint and escaped with the road win.
Things were rolling early for Jackson, who had a team-high nine points on 50 percent shooting in the first half alone and was quickly on pace to reach double figures for the 24th time in 26 game this season. Combined with fellow freshmen Adams and Kelsey Brooks, Razorback newcomers have combined to score 19 of the team's 26 points in the first half. The freshmen efforts pulled Arkansas within 17-16 by the 7:06 mark of the first half. An 8-2 run helped the Razorbacks take a 21-17 lead with 5:48 left to play in the first half, as Keira Peak took a steal and finished off a nice and-1 play in transition. The senior made her presence known all over the court in the opening half, finishing the first half with seven points on 50 percent shooting, three rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Vanderbilt opened the second half on a 13-2 run to claim a 38-28 lead with 14:26 left to play. In the scoring stretch, the Commodores ripped off an 11-0 break while the Razorbacks shot just 0-for-3 over the duration. Arkansas began just 16.7 percent in the second half, including 0-for-2 from beyond the arc. Trailing by 10 points, a three-pointer from Calli Berna ignited a 7-3 run that helped UA pull to within 43-37 by the 7:01 mark. Jackson scored seven straight points and cut the Vanderbilt lead to 48-44 with 4:00 to play. A spirited effort late from the Razorbacks, including clutch free throws from Melissa Wolff and Jackson were not enough however, as the Commodores held on for the win.
QUOTING HEAD COACH TOM COLLEN
“It probably wasn’t a very pretty game to watch, but I felt like both these teams played with a lot of competitive spirit. We just didn’t do enough to win the game. We didn’t execute and we made too many costly mistakes and maybe rushed a few shots. I think right now what we’ve got to do right now is concentrate on not giving up on this season, because I think this season is still in play and we haven’t accomplished what we wanted. We’re going to get into postseason, but we’d rather push to get into the NCAA tournament. At this point now, we’re left with two hard road games to go out and win. We’ll be gritty though, go down to LSU and go to Texas A&M and hopefully take them by surprise.”
- Jessica Jackson tied for a game-high 18 points and also added seven rebounds, five blocks and five assists on the night. The freshman has reached double figures in 23 of 26 games this season, including 13+ points in 15 of the last 17 contests.
- The five blocks from Jackson tied a career-high after she had the same number of rejections against Oral Roberts earlier this season during non-conference play.
- Keira Peak had another of her balanced nights in the box score, finishing with 11 points for her first game in double figures since scoring 12 points at Tennessee on Jan. 30. The team’s lone senior, Peak also added five rebounds, two assists and one steal.
- McKenzie Adams finished with 10 points and one steal, reaching double figures for the 12th time this season and third in her last four outings. The freshman was held to 0-for-3 shooting from beyond the arc.
- Calli Berna recored three points and seven assists on the night. The junior bumped her season assist total to 182 and 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 7.0 assists per game and with four games left, Berna is on pace to erasing Wright’s mark for her own.
- Berna now has 478 career assists, which ranks fifth all-time in program history.
- Freshmen combined to score 32 of the team’s 50 points, led by Jackson’s 18. Jackson, Adams and Brooks have now combined to score 30-40 points eight times this season. Razorback newcomers had 19 of the team’s 26 points in the first half alone.
- Arkansas shot just 25 percent from three-point range, going 4-for-16 from beyond the arc.
- Arkansas recorded eight steals in the game. Over our last five games, the Razorbacks have recorded a combined 49 steals.
- The Commodores came in averaging 74.6 points per game, but were held to just 56 points by the Razorbacks. Arkansas is first in the SEC and second in the NCAA in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of just 52.2 points per game this season.
- Arkansas nearly held Vanderbilt to a season-low point total, as the Commodores scored just 56 points in the win. VU’s season-low point total is 53 points at Tennessee on Feb. 10, 2014. The Razorback defense has held 11 different opponents this season to season-low point totals.
- Vanderbilt outscored Arkansas 40-to-18 on points in the paint. The Razorbacks are now 3-7 this season when outscored in the paint by their opponent.
- Arkansas was out-rebounded 36-to-26 and fell to 4-8 this season when out-rebounded by its opponents.
- Arkansas fell to 16-4 this season when leading at halftime. Arkansas held a 26-25 lead at the break.
- Arkansas is now 13-4 in home games this season, including a 3-4 mark in SEC home contests. The Razorbacks have had 14 wins in a single season at Bud Walton Arena twice. The program record is a 15-4 mark set during the 1998-99 season. One home game remains for Arkansas this season.
- Arkansas is 6-22 all-time against Vanderbilt, including a 5-8 record in Fayetteville. Head coach Tom Collen is 1-7 against the Commodores.
- Tom Collen is 346-158 overall in 16 seasons as a head coach and 129-88 in seven years at Arkansas.
POSTGAME TWEETABLES (140 Characters Or Less)
- Come out and support @RazorbackWBB March 2 in its final home game v Missouri at #BWA. Senior Day for @Kpeaky1. Tix: http://bit.ly/1ghDTva
- Freshman @JessJack_00 continued her impressive scoring with 18pts vs. Vanderbilt. Jess has 13+pts in 15 of the last 17 games. #GoHogs
- Freshmen @JessJack_00 @kenziemichelle3 & @KBrooksie15 have scored 30-40pts seven times this season. @RazorbackWBB future is bright! #GoHogs
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Arkansas heads to Baton Rouge, La., for a road contest against No. 19/18 LSU on Feb. 23. Opening tip is set for 1 p.m.