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Arkansas can’t hold off 13th-ranked Georgia

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas can’t hold off 13th-ranked Georgia

FAYETTEVILLE – Freshman Whitney Jones had her greatest game in Southeastern Conference play with 21 points to lead the University of Arkansas, but it wasn’t enough to hold off 13th-ranked Georgia, 86-80, at Bud Walton Arena Thursday night. Arkansas (13-13) drops to 5-8 in SEC play while Georgia (19-7) stays in third place in the conference at 9-4. Sherill Baker led Georgia with 28 points, Tasha Humphrey added 25 and Janese Hardrick with 20. In a game that Arkansas led most of the way, Georgia rallied first to a slight lead, then to control of the contest in the final two minutes with an 11-0 run. Just before the decisive run, Arkansas chance to regain the lead with 2:20 left, but a Baker steal led to a three-point play that opened the way for Georgia. Humphries scored over Jones with 2:03, and the freshman went down with an injury. Without its leading scorer and Adirenne Bush fouled out of the game, Arkansas was unable to regain the lead. “We need Adrienne Bush on the floor,” Gardner said. “Whitney played her best game of the conference season, and she kept us in the game in the first and the second half.” Tied at halftime, back-to-back three-pointers by Leslie Howard opened a quick four-point lead in the second half, 28-24, for Arkansas. Utilizing a blistering three-point attack, Arkansas hit five straight treys to build a 10-point lead, 49-39, with 12 minutes left in the game. “That gave us a lift, and when we had the 10-point lead we told the team they had to play to win,” Gardner said. ‘We kept the intensity, but we had some very costly turnovers that gave Georgia the chance to come back.” For the game, Arkansas had 23 turnovers, but the SEC’s all-time career steal leader Baker had only four steals and Georgia as a team eight. Inside play by Jones allowed Arkansas to keep its lead until 5:55 left in the game. The freshman post scored her career high against a SEC opponent and her most since her career best of 22 in the season opener.. The game became a battle of the posts between Jones and Humphrey. It was the 6-3 sophomore’s three-point play with five minutes left that gave Georgia its first lead of the second half, 64-61. Jones answered to trim the lead to one, but Adrienne Bush’s fifth foul sent the Lady Bulldogs to the line. Arkansas opened a quick lead up 6-2 in the first five minutes of the game. Five Bulldog turnovers led to all six Lady’Back points as the Arkansas pressure kept Georgia off balance early. Arkansas stretched the lead, 8-2, before Georgia’s Baker got the hot hand with four consecutive points closing the gap. Georgia swashed the turnover trend and tied the game at 14 with 6:47 to play in the half when Janese Hardrick picked up a loose ball and went the distance for the lay-in. Arkansas maintained the lead as only Baker could score early for Georgia. The senior had the Lady Bulldogs’ first 10 points, then sparked an 8-0 for Georgia to lead by six, 20-14. But Arkansas defense clamped down on the rest of the Lady Bulldogs. While Baker finished the first half with 16 points off 8-of-10 from the field, the rest of the team combined for only 3-of-20. In a contest of the two best three-point shooting teams in the SEC, the two teams combined to miss 14 straight shots from behind the arc until Melissa Hobbs’ trey with 19 seconds left in the first half tied the game for Arkansas at 22-22. “That shot gave us a big lift,” Gardner said. “We’ve gone into the tunnel at half with our heads down the whole month, but even after we played poorly in the first half we know that we’re in the game. That probably is the shot that got our second half going.” The Lady’Backs had four players in double digits. Behind Jones, Howard had 17, Rochelle Vaughn 18 and Hobbs 14. Arkansas concludes SEC regular season play traveling to Ole Miss, Sunday, Feb. 26. The Lady’Backs next prepare for the SEC Championship in North Little Rock, Ark., March 2-5. For more information and tickets please cal the Lady Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)