FAYETTEVILLE- Three players in double figures led by junior Ashley Daniels’ double-double lifted the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team to a 78-61 win over SIU-Edwardsville in the 2011 regular season finale in Bud Walton Arena Thursday.
The Razorbacks (19-11) await word of a possible WNIT Tournament bid Monday. Daniels led all scorers with 16 points and 10 rebounds in a solid, balanced effort over the Cougars (11-19) whose season comes to a close.
"I’m happy with the outcome tonight," said Arkansas head coach Tom Collen. "We didn’t want to have 16 days off from the SEC Tournament to our next game and this was a good contest to keep us going. We are having to rebuild ourselves a little bit without Lyndsay (Harris) and I was pleased to be able to get a lot of players more minutes."
Harris suffered a kneed injury in the SEC Tournament game and is out for the remainder of the season. Collen played all 12 players looking at different combinations for the entire game.
The result was Daniels’ double-double, 15 points from sophomore Sarah Watkins and 13 points from junior C’eira Ricketts. Junior Julie Inman posted a season-best eight points as did freshman Yashira Delgado and the Razorbacks had a season-best 22 assists, eight from Delgado. Freshman Keira Peak returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with a knee injury and dropped in nine points and had five rebounds.
"We were focused on getting some easy shots inside," Collen said, "and we did a good job of that. Julie came in and knocked down her open looks and that spread the defense. Yashira also got some baskets and got other players some baskets with great passing tonight."
Arkansas was a bit slow out of the gate and SIUE stretched out a six-point, 10-4 lead through the opening five minutes of play. Back-to-back layups by Daniels on consecutive possessions followed by a third layup by Peak tied the game for the first of just three ties.
Arkansas’ offense kicked into another level and the Razorbacks steadily grew the lead taking a 16-point advantage into the halftime break.
The Razorbacks led by as many as 22 in the second half when Collen began mixing up the lineup. Arkansas finished the game shooting 55.0 percent on a 33-for-60 night from the floor. The Razorbacks hit six threes, three by Ricketts, two from Inman and one from Watkins, and they were 6-for-12 from the line. Arkansas out-rebounded SIUE 37-33 and forced 17 Cougar turnovers.
Arkansas was good in the paint with 44 points and got 28 points from their bench in the win.