BATON ROUGE – Junior Lauren Ervin had 16 points to lead the Lady Razorbacks with 15 points as Arkansas fell to the eighth-ranked LSU Lady Tigers, 70-53, in Southeastern Conference play.
Arkansas, 18-4, moved to .500 for the SEC season at 3-3 while the Lady Tigers stay one-half game out of first place with a 5-1 conference record and 19-3 overall. The victory was the 41st straight home win for LSU, the longest current home winning streak in Division I women’s basketball.
Freshman Donica Cosby came off the bench to add 15 points.
While the loss was disappointing, the game was a dramatic improvement over last season’s result at the Maravich Center that saw Arkansas give up 93 points and lose by 34.
The newcomers Ervin and Cosby proved difference makers when compared to last season.
“Lauren did an exceptional job,” UA head coach Susie Gardner said. “She worked extremely hard.”
LSU was led by guard Quianna Chaney with 15 points, followed by junior all-American center Sylvia Fowles with 13.
While Fowles got another double-double with 13 rebounds, the battle of the posts tipped toward Arkansas’ Ervin, who also scored her first career three-pointer as the Lady’Backs pulled the 6-6 LSU center away from the lane.
“Lauren didn’t guard her by herself, but our double-team did a great job limiting her in the lane,” Gardner said.
Fowles was only 3-of-9 from the field, scoring most of her points at the free throw line.
“We worked hard on trying to limit her, and we knew she would be a great presence,” Ervin said.
For all the improvement, the key to the game came just after intermission. Arkansas had built momentum after a sluggish first half to trail by 11, 32-11.
Coming out of the locker room after halftime with an 8-0 run led by six points from Thomas, the Lady Tigers put the game away early, 40-21, with 18:46 left in the game.
“That was the worse case scenario,” Gardner said.
Arkansas did not fold the tent with several small runs, but could not overcome a cold shooting hand in the second half. After hitting 34% in the first, the Lady’Backs struggled to get over 25% most of the second half until the closing moments.
The opening 20 minutes was a half of streaks and defense as the Lady Tigers eventually built an 11-point, 32-21 spread.
Neither team could establish early offensive continuity against strong defense until a 10-0 run fueled by Fowles, but not from the field. The 6-6 junior hit four free throws and a single field goal in the run that established a 12-point, 16-4, lead with 10 minutes in the half.
Arkansas rallied as freshman substitutes Cosby and Tanisha Smith combined for a 7-2 run to bring the Lady’Backs to within seven, 18-11. An 8-1 solo run from LSU’s Chaney pushed the Lady Tiger lead back to double digits, 30-17, with 2:17 left.
But LSU couldn’t expand the lead, making a single field goal the rest of the half while Arkansas gained a little momentum with a pair of buckets from Ervin for the halftime margin.
Ervin won the first-half battle of the posts with 12 points versus Fowles’ 8, but it was Arkansas’ inability to control the ball that proved the difference. LSU had only six turnovers to 11 for the Lady’Backs, which led to 12 of LSU’s first half points.
LSU also got 11 points from Ashley Thomas.
Next for Arkansas is a showdown with fellow fifth-place SEC team Vanderbilt on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.