comscore script

Arkansas comes up one shot short of win at Tuscaloosa

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas comes up one shot short of win at Tuscaloosa

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – On an afternoon where little went Arkansas’ way, the Lady Razorbacks came within seconds of yet another miracle finish in Southeastern Conference play against the University of Alabama. In the end, Melissa Hobbs’ shot to tie the game with eight seconds left rimmed out and Kristin Peoples’ last possession heave left Arkansas two points short of a record-setting fourth straight SEC win, 75-73, at Alabama. Arkansas, 11-6, lost its first SEC game of the season to drop to 3-1 in conference play as the Crimson Tide evened its overall record at 8-8 and continued undefeated at Coleman Coliseum in conference games. “I thought we were going to have another miracle,” UA head coach Susie Gardner said. “We fought so hard. We came back from the dead. But we just couldn’t finish it out.” Alabama had six players in double figures, led by Marverly Nettles with 15 points. Arkansas was led by Dominique Washington’s 19 points, 12 of which came in the second half. The damage was done in the opening minutes as Alabama scored more first-half points than any two of Arkansas’ previous three SEC opponents to build a double-digit lead by intermission. “A lot of folks will look at this and think it was our offense, but we scored 36 points in the first half,” Gardner said. “It was our defense early that let us down. That was the key. We’d held teams in the SEC to 17, 19 and 22 points, and we gave up 46 in the first half. We dug ourselves into a hole, but it was the defense.” Bama took control early by dominating the lane against the smaller Lady’Backs. The SEC’s leading rebounding team, ranked fifth in Division I, Alabama had a +13 rebound advantage in the first half. “Their posts played like they’ve not played all year,” Gardner said. “That’s the best Alabama’s played this season.” Alabama’s 18-point lead began to dwindle as the Crimson Tide became cautious and Arkansas made a key defensive change. “We changed it up in the second half and did a great job,” Gardner said. “They were trying to wind down the clock and shoot with about four seconds left, so we changed to man.” After struggling mightily the first three games of 2006 at the free throw line, it was clutch shooting from the charity stripe that gave Arkansas its chance and ultimately the lead in the final minute. Hitting 81.8% at the line for the game, Kristin Moore’s one-and-one with 40 seconds left gave Arkansas its only lead of the contest. To get to the line, Moore drew the fifth foul of Dee Merriweather. Moore blocked Kate Mastin’s jumper with 29 seconds left, but Harriet Barnes’ rebound gave Alabama a second chance. Nettles got what proved to be the game-winner on a back-door cut with 23 seconds left to put Bama up 74-73. After Hobbs miss, Arkansas fouled and Bama obliged as Lauren Hill hit just one of two. Arkansas had four seconds to advance the ball up the court, but Peoples’ three attempt to win the game went wide. The final seconds were set up by a slow-motion rally that saw Arkansas outscore Bama, 18-7, over the final 5:18 of the game. Arkansas cut the Bama lead to 10, 68-58, on a three-pointer by Sheree Thompson. A quick turnover and a three-point play by Peoples allowed Arkansas to trim to seven, 68-61, with 4:34 to play. More three-pointers from Hobbs, Washington and Rochelle Vaughn brought Arkansas to within one, 72-71, with 1:41 left. Behind five points in the opening minute from Nettles, Alabama jumped out to a 10-point lead, 14-14, by the first media timeout. The Crimson Tide started the game with the hot hand with 50% from the field and held Arkansas scoreless for just over four minutes to build the double digit lead. The Tide maintained control of the game by dominating the lane, scoring 20 of its first 30 in the paint. After hitting only two of its first 10 shots, Arkansas turned its offense around to hit 10 of its next 19 shots. As three-pointers began to fall for Howard and Peoples, Arkansas cut the Bama lead to single digits several times. Barnes and Merriweather flexed inside for Bama, and the Tide was able to rebuild the double-digit spread at halftime, 46-34. Alabama shot 60.6% from the field in the first half to only 39.4% for the Lady’Backs. Behind Washington, Peoples came off the bench for 12 and Rochelle Vaughn added 10 for Arkansas. Barnes had 14, Lauren Hill and Merriweather 11 and Mastin and Navonda Moore 10 each for Alabama. For the game, Arkansas shot 40% from the field and 44.4% from three-point range, but Alabama cranked out 54.4% from the field.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)