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Arkansas can’t stop red-hot Vanderbilt offense in SEC opener

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas can’t stop red-hot Vanderbilt offense in SEC opener

NASHVILLE – A 16-point first-half outburst by Christina Wirth led the 11th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores to rout of 20th-ranked Arkansas, 98-61, at Memorial Gym.

Arkansas, 15-2, lost its first game since November when the Lady’Backs fell against second-ranked North Carolina in the Rainbow Wahine Classic.

Vanderbilt, 14-1, took control of the game midway through the first half and blistered Arkansas with 63.3% from the field and 75% from behind the arc for a 21-point halftime lead.

“They are a great basketball team and they put it to us,” UA head coach Susie Gardner said. “We didn’t play our best basketball game either, but they had the shooters rolling and we couldn’t score.”

Wirth finished with 24 points to lead all scorers, missing only one shot in her 25 minutes played.

“We knew she could shoot and we were close to her all night, but she was obviously feeling it tonight,” Gardner said of Wirth.

The Lady’Backs never recovered from a poor shooting night that saw Arkansas hit only 30% from the field and just 14.3% from three-point range.

“We didn’t play with a lot of emotion tonight,” Gardner said. “We’re going to need some people to step up. We kept substituting trying to find the right mix, but it never jelled.”

“Coach has been saying we’re playing good teams, but it was nothing like the SEC,” senior Danielle Allen said. “They brought it to us tonight. We’ll learn from this.”

Freshman Donica Cosby came on strong in the second half to score 12 of her team leading 15 points.

“It was a rough start, but we’ll be back,” Cosby said.

Allen provided an early spark in the late first half, and finished with nine points. Whitney Jones came off the bench late for four points and four rebounds and help stem a Vandy offense that led by as many as 40 before Arkansas pulled the lead back down.

“In the second half, we started hitting shots, but we couldn’t seem to stop them,” Gardner said.

Arkansas hosts Miss State on Sunday at Bud Walton Arena for the Lady’Backs’ SEC home opener at 2 p.m.

After an opening four-point flurry from freshman Charity Ford, Arkansas’ offense went into a five minute slumber to allow Vanderbilt to gain the lead. However, it wasn’t until the 12 minute mark that the Commodores broke the game open behind a three-point shooting barrage from Wirth.

The senior hit three straight treys to spark a 13-4 run giving the Commodores a 10-point lead, 22-12, with 10 minutes left.

Arkansas managed little offense the rest of the half as Vanderbilt just got hotter. The Commodores led by as many as 24 before halftime thanks to hitting 6-of-8 from three-point range. Meanwhile, Arkansas missed its first eight treys before a buzzer beater by Donica Cosby sent the Lady’Backs to the locker room trailing, 46-25, at halftime

Wirth finished the first half perfect with 6-of-6 from the field including four treys to lead all scorers with 16 points.

Wirth led five Commodores in double digits. Caroline Williams had 15 followed by 12 points and 14 boards for Carla Thomas. Jennifer Risper came off the bench to round out the scoring with 10.

Arkansas’ leading scorer, Lauren Ervin, was held to only eight points and seven rebounds, well below her double-double averages coming into the game.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)