The 2009-10 season came to a close with a thrilling overtime game at the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Arkansas finished the year 12-18 overall and 4-12 in league play to enter the SEC Tournament as the 12th-seed. The Razorbacks drew Vanderbilt in the first round and gave the Commodores all they could handle forcing an overtime period to decide a winner.
The loss, while disappointing, is a reflection of just how close Arkansas is to reaching the next level. Near misses against some of the nation’s best teams only make the Razorbacks hungry for next season.
Seniors end careers
Seniors Charity Ford and Ashley McCray ended their careers as Razorbacks at the SEC Tournament. McCray played just two seasons at Arkansas and battled injury down the stretch in 2009-10. She finished with 254 points for a 4.6 ppg average and grabbed 181 rebounds averaging 3.3 rpg for her career.
Ford scored 917 points, ranking 25th all-time as a Razorback. She grabbed 287 rebounds and had 130 assists and 161 steals in four seasons. The Arlington, Texas, native was the SEC’s Sixth Player of the Year as a junior (2008-09).
Tough non-conference schedule challenged young team
Saying Arkansas’ non-conference schedule was tough is an understatement. The Razorbacks faced 10 teams from the 2008-09 NCAA Tournament in 13 games this year. Tournament teams included East Tennessee State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Florida, LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Auburn.
Fans of the SEC understand how tough it is to play in the nation’s best conference for women’s basketball but Arkansas head coach Tom Collin knew that to prepare for that, you have to face a challenging non-conference schedule.
The Razorbacks got their first test against ETSU in late November winning against a 13-seed from the previous year. The Razorbacks followed up with a last-second win over Kansas State for their second win against a tournament team.
The non-conference challenges continued at No. 18 Oklahoma. Arkansas had a solid first half and expanded their lead to 16 points in the second half. But the tournament-tested Sooners rallied and forced overtime in front of nearly 7,000 fans. OU squared things with a driving layup at the buzzer and carried that momentum into the overtime period where the Sooners escaped with an 87-86 win over Arkansas.
The drama continued the following weekend when Arkansas had to play four games in five days in one of the most difficult stretches of the schedule. The Razorbacks finished finals, traveled to Northwestern for a noon game, left after the game for Las Vegas and played three more games before the holiday break.
The first game in Las Vegas was with DePaul, a seventh-seed in the previous NCAA Tournament. It was a dog-fight but The Bleu Demons stole one, 46-45, in the final moments of the game.
Although the schedule was tough, Arkansas was rewarded for its efforts and ranked 33rd in the country for Strength of Schedule. The Razorbacks were 12-18 for a .5799 SOS percentage.
That ranks fifth against teams in the SEC and ninth compared to this year’s opponents. Oklahoma currently has the number one ranking with Tennessee at No. 8, South Carolina at No. 11, Vanderbilt at No. 15, DePaul at No. 23, Kansas State at No. 27 and Auburn at No. 29.
Razorbacks get big wins in SEC
Alabama–Clutch free throws by freshman Dominique Robinson and quick hands by senior Charity Ford in the regulation and overtime helped the Razorbacks to a 66-62 win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
A desperation three-pointer by Alabama’s Ericka Russell tied the game with just over eight seconds remaining in regulation and Arkansas was unable to convert on its end, sending the game to overtime for just the second time this season. Arkansas rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit taking an 11-point second half lead of its own only to end the frame tied at 55 after 40 minutes of play. The Razorbacks blasted out of the gate in the overtime with an 8-0 that all but sealed Bama’s fate.
Arkansas was 4-for-7 in the overtime out-scoring Alabama 11-7 in the extra frame. Robinson finished the game going 8-for-8 from the line. Ford led all Arkansas scorers with 16 points including the first four of the overtime period. Ford opened with a layup on Arkansas’ first possession then stole the ball for another layup with just over 30 seconds off the clock.
Robinson then grabbed a steal and shoveled the ball to Ashley Daniels for the layup as the lead stretched to six. Daniels continued the flurry with a steal and pass to Lyndsay Harris for the baseline jumper giving Arkansas an eight-point lead it would not surrender. Sophomore C’eira Ricketts finished with 15 points and Harris added 10 in the win. Ricketts put the team on her back as regulation wound down helping Arkansas maintain its lead late in the game.
Arkansas also out-rebounded Alabama 53-44, a key that Collen and staff stressed before the game. Arkansas finished shooting 40 percent on a 24-for-60 day. The Razorbacks hit three three-pointers and were 15-for-24 from the line.
Auburn– Head coach Tom Collen said the first team to 60 points was likely to win at Auburn and he was right. Arkansas took a 60-48 lead with 6:26 to play and went on to its second league win, 73-58, over Auburn on the road.
Arkansas shot a season-best 50.8 percent going 31-for-61 from the floor in a solid, methodical win at Auburn. The victory snaps a five-game losing streak to the Tigers.
Senior Charity Ford led all scorers with 18 points. Sophomores Ashley Daniels and C’eira Ricketts added 14 each while sophomore Lyndsay Harris finished with 11 points.
The first half was a success for the Razorbacks. Arkansas was 15-for-27 shooting 55.6 percent led by nine points from Ford. The Razorbacks tied the game at 13 and was able hold on to the lead using a better fast break and taking advantage of 10 Tiger turnovers.
Freshman Quistelle Williams had six points and five rebounds and Daniels added five points for Arkansas in the first period. Williams finished the night with eight points and eight boards.
The Razorbacks started the second half where they left off in the first frame and grew the lead to 10, 42-32. It was a double-digit margin that the Razorbacks were able to maintain much of the second half.
South Carolina–Arkansas erased an 18-point deficit getting its second consecutive SEC win at South Carolina Feb. 14, 72-68. The rally from the 18-point deficit in the first half surpassed a previous all-time best of 17 points, set ironically also in the state of South Carolina as Arkansas rallied in the opening round of the SEC Tournament hosted in Greenville, S.C., to defeat Miss State.
Arkansas struggled for much of the game with poor shooting and trouble on the boards but a big rally late saw five players finish in double-figures in an exciting win.
Quistelle Williams tied her career-best with 13 points and had a career-high 11 boards in her first double-double. With just over five minutes to play, Arkansas got a three-pointer from Lyndsay Harris cutting South Carolina’s lead to eight, 55-63. Harris finished with 14 leading Arkansas in a balanced scoring effort. Senior Charity Ford followed with a signature steal from behind and raced the length of the floor for the layup. Ford finished with 14 as well and cut the margin to six. Carolina missed on its next possession and Arkansas snared a hard-to-come-by rebound and returned to the offensive side of the court. Watkins stepped into the paint splitting a pair of defenders for a hard basket that cut the lead to four.
Watkins also had 14, 12 in the second half, in the win. Carolina again missed on its next possession and Williams grabbed the rebound kicking the ball wide to sophomore C’eira Ricketts who slashed her way in for a layup as the Razorback comeback continued. Ricketts had 14 points and five rebounds in the game.
Ricketts then picked up a loose ball and passed back to Ford who scored tying the game for the first time at 63 all with 2:32 to play. Arkansas shot 47.4 percent for the game after struggling early. The Razorbacks were 27-for-57 and hit five threes in the win. Arkansas was 13-for-15 from the line and had 32 boards in the game.
Ole Miss–A balanced effort lifted the Razorbacks to their third consecutive win with a 67-59 victory over Ole Miss in Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas had three players in double figures with 16 each from Ashley Daniels and Lyndsay Harris. Senior Charity Ford added 15 as Arkansas shot 49.1% for the game. The win was the first SEC win in Bud Walton and the fourth of the year.
A blue collar first half for Arkansas sent the Razorbacks into the break with a 37-33 lead. Arkansas shot nearly 52 percent going 15-for-29 behind 11 points from Daniels in the first frame. As the second half started, Arkansas had an eight-point advantage. The Razorbacks stretched that to 10 with 8:21 to play.
But Ole Miss managed to chip away behind the hot hand of Elizabeth Robertson with 20 points on a 6-for-11 effort from beyond the arc. The Lady Rebels closed within three, 57-54, with just over five minutes to play. Daniels responded with a jumper followed by a long two from Ford as the lead again grew to seven points.
Quistelle Williams earns SEC honor
Quistelle Williams earned Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week honors for the first time in her Razorback career DATE.
Williams, a 6-0 center from East Kentwood, Mich., paced the Razorbacks to a pair of SEC wins at Auburn and at South Carolina earning the award.
Williams helped Arkansas to the team’s first consecutive SEC wins of the year with victories over the Tigers and Gamecocks. Williams scored eight points and had eight rebounds in a solid win over Auburn and rallied Arkansas from an 18-point deficit, the largest comeback in a conference game, at South Carolina with her first career double-double.
Her 13 points at Carolina tied her career-best and she added 11 boards for a career-high. In addition, Williams had five field goals, 11 field goal attempts, three free throws, five free throw attempts and one block at South Carolina all tying for her career highs.
Williams’ stats have increased as have her minutes. She played 29 minutes at Auburn and 30, a career-high, at South Carolina.
Ashlea Williams named to SEC Community Service Team
Ashlea Williams earned selection to the Southeastern Conference Community Service Team as a junior.
Williams, a 6-2 post player from Springfield, Mo., has been limited in her third season with chronic knee injury and pain playing in just three games in 2009-10.
Despite her injuries, Williams has remained active in several community service projects for the Razorbacks. She is a three-year participant in the Razorbacks’ Sweat Hawgs program encouraging area elementary students to get fit.
Williams has also participated in several events and clinics including the Life Source Hog Breakfast, the Angle Tree, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Butterfield Trail Retirement Center and Charter Vista for at-risk kids visits. In addition, Williams works with area youth at several Razorback Basketball Camps and at the Martin Luther King Jr., Youth Clinic.
Previous Razorback women’s basketball selections to the SEC Community Service Team include Charity Ford (2009), Sarah Pfeifer (2005, 2007), Rochelle Vaughn (2006), Shanna Harmon (2004) and Shameka Christon (2003).