FAYETTEVILLE – A 17-point effort from junior Leslie Howard paced the University of Arkansas in a losing effort against fourth-ranked LSU in Southeastern Conference women’s basketball action in Bud Walton Arena Thursday.
Arkansas (13-8, 5-3 SEC) struggled offensively for much of the game as LSU (19-1, 7-0 SEC) nearly doubled the Lady’Backs’ shooting percentage for the contest. The sluggish offense was magnified by a disparity in the fouls with LSU hitting the line 29 times connecting on 25 shots.
“The score didn’t indicate the effort we played with tonight, especially at the start of the second half,” head coach Susie Gardner said. “We didn’t put our tails between our legs.”
LSU all-American and 6-6 post player Sylvia Fowles lead all scorers with 21 points in a nine-of-12 night. She added 11 rebounds in the Tiger 93-59 win.
Arkansas was just seven-of-nine from the line paced by a four-of-five night from Brittney Vaughn. Senior Melissa Hobbs joined Howard as the only other Lady’Back in double digits with 10 points.
“We were a little surprised by their offense,” Hobbs said. “We played hard, but they had a lot of offensive power.”
Arkansas opened the second half with a flurry of both offensive and defensive action. The Lady’Backs cut the Tiger lead to 15, 58-43, but Fowles again stepped up for LSU. She helped LSU to 58 points in the paint while holding Arkansas to just 18 inside the lane.
“Coach told us we had nothing to lose, and that relaxed me I know,” Howard said. “We came out and fought, but they had too many weapons.”
“We started to find some shots, and we’d score a three but they’d come right back with two,” Gardner said. ‘It let us trim the lead, but we needed some stops that we weren’t able to get.”
LSU also bested Arkansas on the boards cleaning the glass 45 times to the Lady’Backs’ 26 on the night.
Arkansas tried to run with LSU in the first half and did a nice job on the hustle end of the ball. But the Tiger offense was outstanding shooting over 70 percent for much of the half. LSU cooled late still finishing at nearly 67 percent and hitting 18 of 27 shots from the floor.
LSU was aided by an 11-of-13 performance from the line while committing just seven personal fouls.
Although LSU opened a quick, 8-2, lead in the first period, the Lady’Backs didn’t let things get out of control. A big three from Melissa Hobbs closed the gap to three, 10-7, forcing a Tiger timeout. LSU was a perfect five-for-five to start the contest.
The Lady’Backs had a mini-run with a pair of twos from Howard and a short jumper from Jones but the defense failed to stop LSU as they stretched the lead to 24 at the half on a 15-0 run to end the frame. LSU’s 47 points was the most against Arkansas at the half as the Lady’Backs trailed, 47-23.
Arkansas’ tough SEC schedule continues with back-to-back road games against ranked opponents. The Lady’Backs face Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., Sunday, Feb. 5, followed by a Thursday game at Vanderbilt Feb. 9.
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