FAYETTEVILLE – Brittney Vaughn scored 16 points with 10 assists to spark a huge comeback by the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback basketball team on Senior Day, but the University of Kentucky managed to survive with a last-second win, 59-56, at Bud Walton Arena Sunday afternoon.
Arkansas drops it to 17-10 on the year and 2-10 in Southeastern Conference play while Kentucky improves to 14-13 overall and 8-5 in league action.
“I feel bad for our seniors,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. “They have been great leaders and have played hard all season. I just feel bad that we can’t find a way to win for them. A lot of kids would have shut it down after the stretch we’ve had, but they haven’t done that. We are laying the foundation for things down the road.”
Arkansas trailed early, but a 15-1 run tied the game at halftime, 25-25.
“I think that when the game started, we tried to show them something they haven’t seen defensively and they were able to go on a run,” Collen said. “Once we figured out what we wanted to do, the defense was solid and [Kentucky] panicked. At the end of the game they realized they didn’t need to run any plays. They could throw the ball inside and we couldn’t stop it.”
The game opened with turnovers and missed shots as Kentucky took the early 4-2 lead. The Wildcats would however find their shot and went a quick 7-0 run prompting Arkansas head coach Tom Collen to call his first timeout. The break in the action seemed to work for the Lady Razorbacks defensively as they allowed just four points over the next four minutes, but were unable to cut into the Kentucky advantage as they scored just four of its own.
The Wildcats would go on another run midway through the half to push their advantage into double digits, but a Vaughn three from the top of the key sparked an Arkansas run that kept the Lady’Backs in the contest. That run continued as tough defense and poor shooting by the Wildcats over the final nine-and-a-half minutes of the half placed just one point on the scoreboard and allowed the Lady Razorbacks to work their way all the way back from a 16-point first-half deficit. Vaughn capped the comeback off with a three pointer with 45 seconds left in the period. Arkansas defense held the Wildcats without a point over the final 8:32 of the period and without a field goal for 9:34, its longest stretches of the season.
Despite giving up a 16-point lead, Kentucky came out and drew first blood in the second half on a Chelsea Chowning jumper from the corner at 18:12. The basket ended a scoreless streak by the Wildcats of 10 minutes and 30 seconds and gave Kentucky another lead, although this one much slimmer. Arkansas would knot the game at 27 for the contest’s second tie, and then took its first lead of the matchup at 14:56 when Vaughn was awarded a pair of free throws after a hard foul.
Following the Arkansas lead, the two teams would swap leads and ties nine times over the final 15 minutes of play. Neither team could grab a hold of the momentum until the eight minute mark when Arkansas three-point lead was stretched to five after Sarah Pfeifer took a charge under the basket. Kentucky would fight its way back to a tie at 48 as the clock ticked under five minutes to play.
We are extremely pleased with the victory,” Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell said. It was a hard fought game and Arkansas had a good game plan. Arkansas has done that all season and I was concerned coming in. We got off to a good start and I knew that we needed to do that because we had some stretches that were not so good. Down the stretch we were able to make enough plays and get enough stops to get the win.”
The final moments of the contest were won in the low blocks by the Wildcats as Arkansas’ undersized post players were unable to control the play of Sarah Elliott. At six feet, six inches, Elliott had several inches on the Arkansas front line and she demanded the ball in the closing moments to secure the win.
Along with Vaughn’s 16, Whitney Jones poured in 14 and Ayana Brerton 10 for the Lady Razorbacks. Kentucky’s game was sparked by Samantha Mahoney (19) and solidified by Elliott’s 10.
The Lady Razorbacks return to the hardwood on Thursday night when they travel to Baton Rouge, La., to play the LSU Tigers. For more information about Lady Razorback basketball or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.