TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Clutch free throws by freshman Dominique Robinson and quick hands by senior Charity Ford in the regulation and overtime helped the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team to a 66-62 win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Sunday.
Arkansas (9-11, 1-6 SEC) got a balanced effort from the team in their first league win over Bama (9-11, 1-6 SEC).
“Wow, we needed that,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. “What a great effort for the entire game by this team. I can’t say enough about how pleased I am with today’s win.”
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.
“That may have been the difference in the ballgame,” Collen said. “We got that lead and we played like Alabama couldn’t come back. It was a confidence boost and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
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.
“Dominique had a great all-around game,” Collen said. “She played like she wanted the ball and hit some big shots for us down the stretch.”
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.
Ricketts and Harris both played most of the final minutes and all of overtime with four fouls.
“Their efforts were great,” Collen said. “This was a complete team effort and I’m pleased with how everyone stepped up today.”
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.
“They are a good rebounding team and we talked a lot about that,” he said. “I was pleased at our final numbers today.”
Arkansas got several good offensive looks to open the game but the scoring was stingy with the Razorbacks going 0-for-8 in the first seven minutes. Bama took a 6-0 lead at the media timeout after Arkansas lost the services of senior Ashley McCray with an injury early.
Harris would score Arkansas’ first basket from the floor with a long two that sparked the Razorbacks. Freshman Sarah Watkins had a tough catch and shoot in the next possession but made the bucket closing the gap to 5-10, at the second media timeout.
As the clock wound down, the Razorback guards were frustrated with the smothering defense of the Crimson Tide.
But Arkansas would not give up. Down six with 4:41 to play in the half, Arkansas got a 10-foot jumper from junior Skye Rees bringing the deficit to four points.
Watkins was next credited with a steal and passed ahead to a sprinting Ford for the layup but Bama answered with a layup of its own with 2:10 to play. The teams picked up the pace in the final minutes of the period but it would be Arkansas who would convert with a long three from Ford with 41 ticks on the clock.
The Razorbacks battled back with some of the toughest shots of the year finishing the half down one, 22-23.
The Razorbacks shot nearly 30 percent for the half led by eight points from Ford who was 3-for-8 with one three pointer and a free throw. Arkansas had four points each from Ricketts, Harris and Watkins.
Arkansas breaks from play Thursday before returning to the court Sunday, Jan. 31, hosting Vanderbilt at 2 p.m. It is the first of four remaining home dates for Arkansas.