NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Arkansas managed a 17-0 run in the first half erasing a 17-point deficit but couldn’t hold on for the win, falling 68-59 to Florida in the first round of the 2011 Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday.
Arkansas (18-11) was paced by an Arkansas SEC Tournament record nine team three pointers and a record six threes from junior Lyndsay Harris but they couldn’t overcome a slow start and the hot-shooting Gators(18-13). Sophomore Quistelle Williams stepped in tying her career-best with 13 points after Razorback starters Ashley Daniels and Sarah Watkins got into foul trouble early in the first half.
"It’s always hard to lose," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "We came into the tournament with high expectations. I’m happy with the way we played and fought back. We’ll go back home and regroup for our next game."
The Gators opened the game shooting a blistering 76.6 in the first 10 minutes with an 8-for-8 performance taking a big lead in the first period. Arkansas found themselves down by 17 quickly but rallied behind great defense to tie the game at 28 and put together a 17-0 run getting back into the game. Harris heated up with a three, followed by a second three pointer and she was fouled on the play sparking the Razorbacks.
But Florida again got hot offensively finishing the half on a 14-4 run opening a 10-point, 43-33, lead at the break. Harris paced Arkansas in the first half with 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Williams had some big minutes for Arkansas after Watkins and Daniels each picked up their second fouls. Williams scored seven points going 3-for-3 with a three pointer in the first half.
Florida was cold to start the second half and Arkansas was able to erase the 10-point halftime lead. Harris hit a three from the left side of the court at the 10:33 mark tying the game at 49-all. The game was tied again with three minutes remaining in regulation when C’eira Ricketts was fouled and made both of her bonus shots.
"We have done a lot of great things this season," Collen noted. "This team is so close to being a great basketball team. We found a way to tie the game and have a chance to win. We are going to benefit from games like this somewhere down the line."
The Razorbacks finished the game shooting 37.9 percent on 22-for-58 shooting. They were nine-for-20 from three point range and 6-for-9 from the line.
Harris finished with a game-best 18 points followed by 13 from Williams, eight from Ricketts and seven each from Walter and Watkins.
Florida out-rebounded Arkansas 43-30 and forced 18 Arkansas turnovers. The score was tied eight times, seven in the second half.
Arkansas hosts SIU-Edwardsville in the final regular season game of the year, Thursday, March 10, at 7 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.