DULUTH, Ga. —Jessica Jackson had 21 points and 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double and second against Ole Miss (12-19, 2-14 SEC) this season, but a last-second jumper from the freshman was too strong and the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team (19-11, 6-10 SEC) fell 63-62 at the 2014 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament in Duluth, Ga., on Wednesday.
A contested game down the stretch with both sides hitting big baskets late to trade leads, Jackson had a good look on a jumper after a full-court heave and designed play, but it was the Lady Rebels who came out with the victory.
Arkansas held an 11-10 lead by the first media timeout, as Jacksonled all scorers with seven points on 3-for-4 shooting. The freshman also hauled in three rebounds to help on the glass, as the Razorbacks were out-rebounding the Lady Rebels early. The trend continued for the Razorbacks, as Jackson kept scoring in bunches and UA kept rebounding. UA had an 11-to-4 advantage on the board, including four offensive rebounds, while Jackson had four rebounds and 11 points of her own. UA led 21-13 by the 10:34 mark of the first half. The scoring and shooting efficiency became contagious as the first half rolled on, with the team shooting 59 percent collectively (40% 3PT) and five different Razorbacks with at least four points or more. Ole Miss upheld the hot shooting while Arkansas began to cool a bit, which helped the Lady Rebels trim the lead possession-by-possession until it was just a one-possession game by halftime. Tia Faleru and Valencia McFarland each had 10 points in the first half for UM.
It was a back-and-forth affair in the early part of the second half, as teams traded leads. UA created a balanced scoring attack after Jackson carried the load in the first half, with five different Razorbacks scoring five points or more and UA holding a 43-42 lead with 11:30 to play. It was a battle for position down low offensively, as UM finished with 44 points in the paint while UA had 36. Jackson collected her second double-double against Ole Miss this season (fifth of the season) with an offensive rebound and putback score to give UA a 48-44 lead with nine minutes left. Bria Pitts came in from off the bench to spark UA late with two 3-pointers that helped extend UA’s lead to six points with 7:20 to go. Making three straight 3-pointers and building a 7-2 run late in the second half, UA built a 10-point lead with less than five minutes to play.
Holding an eight-point lead with 3:41 left UA was held over three minutes without a basket, which allowed UM to climb back into the game and take a late lead. The two traded big shots back-and-forth down the final minute of the game, but it was Ole Miss who came out on top after Jackson’s last-second jumper from the wing was just too strong and off the rim.
TURNING POINT Ole Miss closed the game on a 13-2 run which inevitably helped the Lady Rebels close an eight-point gap and take the final 63-62 lead that decided the game. Over the final 4:14 of the game, Arkansas was just 1-for-5 from the floor and committed four turnovers.
PLAYER OF THE GAME Jessica Jackson had a game-high 21 points on 50 percent shooting, plus 11 rebounds to record her fifth double-double of the season and second against Ole Miss this season. Honorable mention goes to Bria Pitts who came in off the bench and scored six points with a pair of 3-pointers that sparked the team in the second half.
QUOTING HEAD COACH TOM COLLEN “You know, I’ve said all year that this team is an NCAA tournament team, but you’ve got to come up with wins in these close games and prove yourself in order to reach that goal. We made a few more mistakes than we would have liked to down the stretch and just didn’t come up with the shots. I’m proud of this team for the way that they’ve continued to fight in close games all season long. Unfortunately, we’ve ended up on the wrong side of some of them.”
QUICK HITS – Jessica Jackson finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double and second against Ole Miss this season. The freshman has scored 20+ points seven times this season and in double figures in 26 of 30 games this season.
– Calli Berna reached double-digit scoring for the second time in the last three games, finishing with 10 points, eight assists and three steals. The junior was 3-for-5 from the floor and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.
– Berna bumped her season assist total to 205 and broke the program’s class record for most assists by a junior in a season. Amy Wright previously held the record with 198 assists as a junior.
– Berna now has 501 career assists, which ranks fifth all-time in program history. She is now just eight assists short of passing Christy Smith (1994-98) for fourth place all-time.
– The Razorbacks have played 17 games against SEC opponents this season and 11 have been decided by seven points or less. Eight of the 17 have come down to four points or less. UA is 4-4 in games decided by 1-4 points.
– Arkansas lost the turnover battle, committing 18 turnovers to the 15 mistakes by Ole Miss. The Razorbacks are now 1-3 this season when losing the turnover battle, while 18-8 when winning it.
– Ole Miss translated the miscues of Arkansas into 24 points off of turnovers, while Arkansas had just 12 points off of mistakes.
– The Lady Rebels outscored the Razorbacks 44-to-36 in points in the paint. Arkansas fell to 4-9 this season when outscored down low. UA is 14-1 in games when scoring more points in the paint than its opponent.
– Arkansas recorded seven steals in the game. Over their last nine games, the Razorbacks have recorded a combined 80 steals (8.88 spg).
– Arkansas fell to 17-5 this season when leading at halftime. The Razorbacks were up 34-32 at the break.
– Arkansas is 10-22 all-time at the SEC Tournament. The Razorbacks last win in the SEC Tournament was March 1, 2012, against Ole Miss.
– Arkansas is 14-24 all-time against Ole Miss. The Razorbacks are 2-5 on a neutral court against the Lady Rebels. Head coach Tom Collen is 5-8 against the Lady Rebels.
– Tom Collen is 348-160 overall in 16 seasons as a head coach and 131-90 in seven years at Arkansas.
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