BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Senior Shameka Christon picked up her fourth double-double of the season, and her clutch free throws in the final four minutes proved the difference in the University of Arkansas’ 67-65 win over Western Kentucky University here at Diddle Arena in women’s college basketball.
Arkansas, 4-1, swapped leads with Western, 2-3, most of the second half and survived several serious scoring droughts. But Arkansas took its final lead thanks to drastic miscues by the Lady Toppers.
“It seemed like it would be a game that would come down to the end of the game,” UA head coach Susie Gardner said. “A lot of things could have gone either way, but we had a lot of big things happen.”
Christon led Arkansas with 21 points and added 10 rebounds, while sophomore Ruby Vaden made her first start of the season and scored 16 points with 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Rochelle Vaughn rounded out the double digit scorers with 13 points.
“We were coming off a tough loss and we needed to play within ourselves,” Christon said. “It was a back and forth game and we showed a lot of effort and competitiveness, but we had too many mistakes. We’ll improve that.”
An intentional foul by Charlotte Marshall on Christon with 6:07 left in the game and a technical foul on Western’s head coach Mary Taylor Cowles with 2:29 to play allowed Arkansas to pull away.
Christon was called on for all four free throws, calmly hitting each one.
“I love the pressure,” Christon said. “I want to be in that situation.”
“For the first time in my career, I really don’t know what to say,” Cowles said. “Our team put so much effort into this game. Mistakes were made and we can’t turn around and change them.”
The Lady’Backs hit six of their first nine shots in the first four minutes of the game, then needed 21 more attempts to yield six field goals over the next 16 minutes. Arkansas’ top three accounted for 30 of the team’s 31 first-half points; the rest of the team was 1-of-15 from the field.
Opening the second half, Vaden’s three-point play highlighted an Arkansas comeback to a 44-39 lead. Western cutting the UA lead to one three times before Krystal Gardner’s free throws put the Lady Toppers ahead, 52-51.
The teams traded shots and turnovers for the next two minutes before Tiffany Talbert-Porter’s back-to-back breakaway layups made it a 56-51 lead with 7:25 to play.
Arkansas went 4:32 seconds without a point, but Christon picked off a pair of WKU passes to bring Arkansas back. After her layup at 6:23 to snap the scoreless streak, Christon broke the the basket again only to be taken into the goal pad by WKU’s Charlotte Marshall. Marshall drew an intentional foul for the play, resulting in a four-point play for Arkansas. Christon hit both free throws, then Katrina Nesby hit a layup on the ensuing inbound for a 57-54 lead.
“The intentional foul gave us some momentum we needed, particularly when we scored on the inbounds afterward,””Gardner said.
Arkansas maintained its lead, and received a chance to advance it when the WKU bench was whistled for the technical foul. Christon hit the free throws to advance the spread to 65-59.
Western wasn’t done as Camryn Whitaker and Porter-Talbert trapped Vaughn with 36 seconds left to force her fifth foul.
Whitaker returned the foul on April Seggebruch, allowing her to make the score 67-63. Logsdon burst back down the floor to draw a leaning three-point foul from Katrina Nesby. The senior hit the front of the rim on her first, only cutting the score to two, 67-65.
Peoples got the inbound and was immediately fouled by Porter-Talbert. The freshman guard missed both free throws, but Whitaker’s layup that could have sent the game to overtime rimmed out at the buzzer.
“It was a slow motion dream right in front of our faces,” Gardner said. “I thought for a moment that it might to right in, and that it would be that kind of night. I’m sure Mary felt the same way, and thought that it was going to fall and be her night.”
Arkansas jumped on Western early, using a 12-2 run fueled by six points from Christon to lead 16-9 at the 13:03 mark. Unfortunately, the Lady’Backs followed it with a 3:12 scoreless spell which led to an 11-1 run to give WKU the lead, 20-17, with 8:18 in the first.
Vaughn led the Arkansas comeback, scoring eight of the Lady’Backs’ next 10 points to put UA head, 27-22, at 6:13.
Logsden showed no ill effects from her preseason knee surgery as she led WKU back into the lead by halftime. Arkansas went the final 3:34 of the opening period without scoring while the Lady Toppers went on a 10-0 run for a 34-31 lead at intermission.
Logsden came into the game averaging only 7.5 ppg, but had more than that by half with 10 to lead WKU.
For the game, Porter-Talbert led WKU with 21 points, followed by Logsdon with 12.