PORT LUCAYA, Bahamas – Freshman Lyndsay Harris had a breakout game with 23 points to lead all scorers but the Arkansas Razorbacks went down to defeat to Oregon State, 69-56, in the opening round of the Junkanoo Jam on Grand Bahama Island.
Arkansas, 4-1, faces Pacific, 1-2, in the consolation game of the Lucaya Division of the tournament at 5:15 p.m. central. Oregon State, 3-0, advances to the title game against North Carolina.
A solid second half of basketball could not undo the worst opening half of the season doomed Arkansas.
“It was very frustrating,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “You’re not going to dig out of a 44-18 hole like that against a BCS conference team.”
Harris led a 5-0 start to the second half. Holding the Beavers to only one field for the first seven and a half minutes, Arkansas cut OSU’s halftime lead down to 14 points, 46-32.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Ayana Brereton pulled Arkansas with single digits, 49-40, with 9:38 to play.
A porous first half defense tightened up to allow only three field goals to OSU until the closing minutes of the game. Arkansas got as close as eight, 57-49, with just over five minutes left.
Unfortunately, the Beavers didn’t need a lot of scoring to maintain their lead, and free throws proved to be the difference. Oregon State hit 18 for the game, 13 in the second half.
“I hope the team that we saw in the second half is the one that step up on the floor tomorrow,” Collen said. “We just couldn’t get all the way back but give our kids credit they believed they could.”
Arkansas kept the game in single digits as late as 4:55 before OSU pulled back to a double digit spread thanks to late fouls.
The Razorbacks opened the game as if they were playing in Alaska rather than the Bahamas, missing their first six shots and going 1-of-11 before Harris began to find her range.
“We didn’t start the game with the confidence we’ve had, and we didn’t get into the press because we were not making shots,” Collen said. “We played a lot faster in the last half, and we gave them a lot of trouble once we could get into our press.”
The freshman from Hoover, Ala., scored 12 of Arkansas’ first-half 18 points. She and fellow freshman Ceira Ricketts accounted for all the Razorback early scoring as the rest of the team combined for 0-of-17.
Meanwhile the Beavers jumped out to a quick 8-0 start, six of the opening points from Tiffany Ducker. Ducker finished the opening half with 14, leading the Beavers to a 26-point halftime lead, 44-18. Oregon State shot 69.2% against Arkansas in the first half.
Ricketts finished with 17 points for Arkansas and Brereton rounded out the double digit scorers with 10.
Brittney Davis led Oregon State with 16, followed by 14 from Ducker and 12 each from Alex Mitchell and Cedes Fox-Griffin.