comscore script

Defense brings Arkansas to edge of upset

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Defense brings Arkansas to edge of upset

NASHVILLE – It was a total team effort for the University of Arkansas, but 6-4 center Liz Sherwood proved the singular difference as the 22nd-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores held of a furious Lady Razorback rally, 64-59. The loss drops Arkansas to 13-10, 5-5 in SEC play while Vanderbilt escapes to stay at 6-4 in league games. The Lady’Backs host Kentucky, 16-6 and 5-4 in SEC games, on Sunday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena. All but one Lady’Back scored against Vandy, led by Leslie Howard nine points. Melissa Hobbs pulled down a career high 11 rebounds with eight points. Three other Lady’Backs also had eight points. Sherwood came off the bench to lead all scorers for Vandy with 16 points. Trailing by 11 midway through the second half, Arkansas cut the Vandy lead to a possession in the final minutes and threatened the Commodores until the last seconds. “I’m really proud of the way our team fought, the way we cut it to two in the second half,” UA women’s basketball head coach Susie Gardner said. “In my opinion, they played hard enough to win and I’m disappointed for them. Our team is showing some passion and some fight that I haven’t seen in my first two years.” A 7-2 beginning to the second half for Arkansas pulled the Lady’Backs within two, 37-35, with 17:58 left in the game. The Commodores countered by pounding the ball down low to reestablish their seven-point halftime lead and begin to extend out to 11, 46-35. “We fought back and played an exceptional second half,” Gardner said. “I hurt for them because they played hard, but now we’ve got to get cleaned up, get on the plane and shake it off at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon.” Unable to keep pace on offense, Arkansas turned to defense and the same spread offense that allowed them to stay in the game early in the first half. A series of Vandy turnovers and six Arkansas buckets from different players brought the Lady’Backs to within one after a deep three-pointer from Dominique Washington cut the Commodore lead to one, 52-51, with 8:09. On the other end, Vandy continued to go to Sherwood and the lane to maintain the pressure on Arkansas until the final five minutes. “We had a hard time guarding Sherwood tonight, but bur post players did the best that they could,” Gardner said. “I was especially proud of Melissa’s rebounding.” Then it was Vanderbilt’s turn on the defense. Hobbs’ jumper with 5:41 left in the game to make the score 55-53 proved Arkansas’ final points until a 15-foot jumper from Kristin Moore with 58.3 left in the game. Forced to foul trailing by six after the Moore jumper, a three-pointer from Washington cut the lead to four with 20 seconds left but the Lady’Backs could not get closer. After a slow start, Vanderbilt used a 50-50 attack to carry a seven-point lead to halftime, 35-28. The SEC’s most accurate team from long range, Commodores hit 50% from the field and 50% from behind the arc in the first half. Arkansas’ held Vanderbilt scoreless for almost two and a half minutes to open the game, getting out to a quick 5-0 lead. The Lady’Backs maintained the lead until a three-pointer from Christina Wirth lifted Vandy, 11-10. Utilizing several scorers in the opening minutes, jumpers from Danelle Allen, Kristina Andjelkovic and Sheree Thompson allowed Arkansas to tie VU at 16-16. After the teams exchanged baskets, Sherwood took over the game. A 6-0 run by Vanderbilt firmly established the Commodore lead which Sherwood protected with six straight points of her own.Despite sluggish offense in the first half, shooting only 33% to 50% for Vandy, Arkansas managed to stay close at halftime, 35-28. It was a stark difference from the previous two SEC games for the Lady’Backs, and a dramatic reversal of the last visit to Nashville which saw VU ahead by 23 at intermission. Along with Hobbs, Arkansas had eight from Moore, Andjelkovic and Washington. Vandy got double digits from Davis with 10 and Thomas with 11.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)