FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sophomore Shanita Arnold scored a career-high 22 points for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks in a, 78-69, victory over the Mustangs of Southern Methodist University Friday night at Bud Walton Arena
The native of Fort Smith, Ark. dialed up 5-for-6 from three-point territory for 15 first-half points. Arnold ended the night 6-of-11 from long distance, along with two assists.
“Everyone in the state that has followed her knows she can do it,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “When the first shot went in, that spark was there; and when the second one fell, she went into invincible mode. Heaven knows, we needed her in the first half.”
Freshman Ceira Ricketts dropped-in 18 points, while senior teammate, Ayana Brereton, contributed 17 points and eight rebounds, respectively. Senior Whitney Jones dominated the glass snatching a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with six points.
“This team has no superstars,” Collen said. “On any given night, we have eight or nine players that can give us 20 points. Shanita certainly did in the first half. Ceira gave us the lift in the second, and Ayana did it through the whole game.”
After trailing, 41-35, at the midway point, the Mustangs charged back to knot things up, 55-55, with 10:10 to go in the game. Arnold quickly ended that by drilling her sixth three-point bucket to give Arkansas a 58-55 advantage.
“You can’t play three-fourths of a game,” SMU head coach Rhonda Rompola said. “We made some youthful mistakes 55-all, and we gave up a three and a drive. We made some errors and we got down on ourselves at that point.”
With 5:32 left in the second-half Ricketts forced a steal, headed up court and sank a layup as she was fouled. She then made the free-throw extending the Razorback lead to eight, 67-59, their largest lead at that point.
The Mustangs cut the Arkansas lead to five, 71-66, with 1:19 left to go in the game. That was the closest they would get before as Ricketts nailed four free-throws down the stretch to seal the Razorback win.
Arkansas finished the game 11-of-16 from the charity stripe while nailing 30-of-69 field goals, before an announced attendance of 1,326.
Delisha Wills paced SMU with 20 points, while Brittany Gilliam and Haley Day added 16 and 12, respectively.
Arkansas went on a 7-0 run to begin the game. Back-to-back three-pointers by Arnold with 13:23 to go in the first half gave Arkansas a 17-15 lead. The Mustangs were able to muster their first advantage of the night with 13:43 to go in the first half, 15-14.