COLUMBIA, Mo. – Senior Lauren Ervin dominated the floor in her return visit to the University of Missouri, leading the University of Arkansas to a seventh straight win to open the 2007-08 season as the Lady Razorbacks downed the Tigers, 66-53.
Arkansas held Missouri without a field goal for the final 6:05 of the game, and a single free throw in the last four minutes as the Lady’Back defense crushed the Tiger inside game.
“We told the team that in the last six minutes we would win the game on the defensive end of the floor,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “We told them that we’d make a goal here or there, but that it was all about shutting them down on defense.”
For the game, Arkansas held Mizzou to only 26.2% from the field. No team has scored over 60 points on the Lady’Backs, who lead the Southeastern Conference in defensive field goal percentage.
Only a phenomenal effort from three-point range by the Tigers, 3-3, kept Missouri in the game early.
Ervin led Arkansas with 20 points and picked up her second double-double of the season by adding 16 rebounds. Jones got her first double of the year with 17 points and 12 rebounds, only the second double-double of her career.
“We knew what we had to do to win a game like this on the road,” Ervin said. “Our offense was right with our defense tonight.”
For the 6-3 senior from southern California, it was a return as Ervin played her freshman season at Kansas.
“I wanted to get this win, yes,” Ervin said.
Arkansas controlled the score most of the game, but a Tiger rally brought Missouri within one, 51-50, off a deep banked three-pointer by Amanda Hanneman with 6:05 to play.
The Lady’Backs responded with its power duo on a 7-0 run to regain momentum. A jumper by Jones was followed by a three-pointer from Ervin that barely disturbed the net. A steal by Ervin led to a pair of free throws for Jones.
Missouri tried to restart its offense, but after a pair of free throws from Jessera Johnson at the 4:05 mark Arkansas completely shut the Tigers down.
Jones stepped up with back-to-back shots in the lane in the final two minutes. A kick-out three-pointer by Charity Ford iced the final margin.
“I thought that Jones was the final dagger to the heart,” Collen said.
The Arkansas defense made another impressive opening, holding the Tigers scoreless for the opening 3:30 of the game. The Lady’Backs held Missouri to only one field goal in the first 12 attempts, building a modest early lead 7-3.
For the first half, Missouri shot only 21.2% from the field, but a surprising 46.2% from behind the arc. The Tigers hit 1-of-20 – a layup – from inside the line but 6-of-13 from three-point range.
Neither team could score for the next three minutes before Arkansas worked its way to a six-point lead thanks to the inside power of Ervin and Jones.
Ervin registered three blocked shots in the opening 15 minutes and the Lady’Backs shift to man-to-man Missouri could not get a field goal inside the three-point arc until a Toy Richbow layup with 5:51 left in the half. She backed it with a three-pointer to bring Mizzou within one, 21-20.
Ervin and Jones responded for Arkansas to push the lead back to six by halftime, 31-25, as the Lady’Backs held Missouri scoreless in the final 2:33 of the first half.
Ervin had a near-double by intermission, scoring 12 points with eight boards and four blocks in the first 20 minutes.
Arkansas got 15 points from Ford to round out the double-digit scorers.
Hollins led Missouri with 20 points, followed by Johnson with 16.
The Lady’Backs return home to face Clemson out of the ACC on Sunday at 2 p.m.