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Another streak-breaking win for Collen

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Another streak-breaking win for Collen

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Senior Ayana Brereton and junior Charity Ford led five Razorbacks in double-digits as the University of Arkansas handed the 15th-ranked Florida Gators their first home loss of the season, 83-74, in women’s college basketball.

Arkansas, 16-11, moves to 5-7 in SEC play, and snaps a 21-game losing streak against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Florida drops to 22-5 on the year, 8-4 in league play.

“Our kids were calm and cool when they walked in here tonight,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “They played with confidence. This team really believes in itself right now.”

Florida scored five unanswered points in the last minute to cut a nine-point Arkansas lead to four, but the Razorbacks made enough free throws in the closing minute to hold on to the upset.

Ironically, the last time Arkansas beat a Top 25 team was Jan. 26, 2006, when the Razorbacks beat a then 24th-ranked Florida at home.

It was the first road win over a top 25 team for Arkansas in over eight years, and only the second of the 21st Century.

Brereton and Ford had 19 points each to lead the Razorbacks.

“Charity Ford continues to step up for us in the second half and Ayana in the first half,” Collen said. “We’ve said this all along, we need our seniors to step up, and Ayana did in a big way in this game.”

Freshman Ceira Ricketts picked up her third double-double of the year with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Lyndsay Harris had 13 and Ashley McCray 10.

“Ceira Ricketts didn’t play as well as she could, but she was hurt and still got a double-double tonight,” Collen said of the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week.

Arkansas shot a season-high 53.8% from the field for the game, off-setting a 53% night at the free throw line.

The win is the fourth straight for the Razorbacks, the longest win streak for Arkansas in SEC play since the 2001 league season.

Arkansas pushed its halftime advantage to eight early in the second half. Five different Razorbacks took turns scoring while Florida scored only one field goal out of its offense to put Arkansas up 46-38 with 13:36 to play.

The teams traded buckets until Florida went on a 7-0 run capped by a three-pointer from Sha Brooks, 51-50, with 10:46 to go.

It was as close as Florida could get in the second half as the Razorbacks used back-to-back steal-and-layup fast breaks from Harris and Ford to return to a five-point margin, 55-50.

The teams traded buckets for the next three minutes before Arkansas extended the lead to 10 for the first time in the game off a pair of Ford driving layups, 65-55, with 6:41 to play.

Defense took over the game as the Gators scored three points over the next three and a half minutes to whittle the Arkansas lead to seven, 65-58. Razorbacks controlled the pace, taking 75 seconds off the clock with one four-rebound possession.

Brereton broke the scoring drought with two free throws and a long jumper to give Arkansas its largest lead at 11, 69-58.

Just like last season at the O’Connell Center, Arkansas carried the lead to halftime, 34-32.

Arkansas’ defense set the tempo by holding Florida scoreless for the first 1:59 of the game. Thanks to a 5-0 run from a Harris three-pointer and Ricketts layup, the Razorbacks led the Gators most of the first half.

Marshae Dotson was the only offense Florida could muster in the first eight minutes of the game, hitting nine straight before Lucas scored four to pull the Gators to within one, 14-13. McCray responded with one of her three first half buckets in the lane to push the Arkansas lead back to three, 16-13.

Brooks managed to tie the game twice for Florida on consecutive buckets before giving the Gators their first lead of the night on a three-pointer, 26-25, with 5:17 left. The teams traded leads and ties

The Razorback offense was hot, hitting 52% for first half, while Florida outside of Dotson struggled mightily. Dotson hit 7-of-11 in the first half, but the rest of the Gators combined for only 6-of-25 from the field.

Brereton almost matched Dotson with 12 first half points off 5-of-7.

Brooks led all scorers with 27 points, followed by 20 for Dotson.

Arkansas returns home to face Alabama on Sunday at 2 p.m. for Senior Day at Walton Arena.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)