FAYETTEVILLE – Junior Ruby Vaden came off the bench to score 12 points for the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback basketball team as it picked up an impressive 65-62 win over the University of Oregon at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on Tuesday night.
The victory improves the Lady Razorbacks to 9-1 on the year as they remain undefeated at home, while Oregon falls to 7-2.
Arkansas held off the Ducks with clutch play in the closing minutes as the Lady’Backs won their fifth last minute game of the season.
“I think that fight is a big difference between this year and last year’s team” Arkansas point guard Kristin Peoples said. “This year out fight and confidence has definitely improved which is allowing us to win the close games.”
“I am so proud of the players,” Arkansas head coach Susie Gardner said. “We had a big break and found a way to win. I didn’t think that we could play them in man, but we out rebounded them and pressured their guards.”
Leading by 16 at the break, Arkansas continued to press the Ducks in the second half as it maintained a double-digit cushion throughout most of the second half. Doubling the Oregon post players and getting out to interrupt the shooters rhythm, the Lady’Backs were able to substitute freely throughout the beginning of the half setting up another defensive push.
A Catherine Kraayeveld three from the left corner dropped Arkansas’ lead to seven with 8:18 to play prompting Gardner to call a timeout. The three-pointer came in the middle of a 13-1 Oregon run that cut Arkansas’ lead from 17 to five. After an Arkansas bucket quieted the comeback, Oregon again surged to bring the game within two at the five minute mark.
A pair of Kristin Peoples free throws gave Arkansas a five-point lead, then on the ensuing inbound, Peoples drew a charge on the Ducks’ Kaela Chapdelaine to get the ball back under the Oregon bucket. Another Oregon foul put Rochelle Vaughn on the charity stripe allowing Arkansas to gain a seven-point lead once again after a pair of free throws.
One of the keys to keeping the Oregon comeback bid at bay was Arkansas’ success at the free throw line. Going 21-33 for the game, The Lady’Back’s hit 12 of those free points in the final four minutes to stay on top. Chapdelaine would drill a three as the clock ticked under one minute to bring the Ducks within three, but Arkansas free throws continued to save the day. An Oregon steal on a Lady Razorback inbound gave the Ducks an easy layup with 30 seconds left to make it a one-point contest, but a Sarah Pfeifer free throw put the lead at two.
Oregon’s next possession came up short, but the Ducks pulled down the offensive board to get a second shot at the bucket which also missed its mark. Vaughn came up with the ball for Arkansas and hit both of her shots to make it a three-point game. On the final Oregon possession, the Ducks looked for the tie with a three, but Kristin Forristall’s three-point attempt was blocked by Sheree Thompson to nail down the Lady Razorback victory.
“We didn’t have any time outs for the last play so we had to go with it,” Oregon head coach Bev Smith said. “It was up to our senior player to make a play and if she thinks she can make a shot I trust her judgment.”
“Sheree made some poor decisions on offense early in the game,” Gardner said. “She told me at the end of the game that she made up for it on the block.”
Arkansas opened the contest with a hot hand from the floor, hitting its first three shots and holding Oregon scoreless for 3:14 to take a 6-0 lead. The Ducks came right back after spotting the home team a lead by scoring six of the next eight points to bring the game back to two but a pair of Arkansas steals on the next two Oregon possessions followed by a layup and a three made it a 13-6 Arkansas lead at 13:20.
Arkansas’ lead grew to as many as 10 late in the period but what was 10 could have been more if the Lady Razorbacks had not been abysmal from three-point land as they hit just three of 15 shots from downtown for a meager 20 percent. The Ducks began to come back late in the first as they capitalized on poor Arkansas shooting, but moments later an intentional foul sent Peoples to the line and after hitting both shots, Arkansas drained a three to help it to a 31-15 halftime lead. While the Ducks only shot 32 percent from the floor in the first, Arkansas hit just 36 percent, but 17 Oregon turnovers led to 20 Lady Razorback points.
Behind Vaden’s 12, Vaughn and Peoples each hit for double digits with 11 and 10, respectively. Oregon’s Kraayeveld led all scorers with 20 points.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action on Thursday, Dec. 30, when they begin Southeastern Conference play against the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., at 6:00 p.m. For more information about Lady Razorback basketball or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.