FAYETTEVILLE – Senior Rochelle Vaughn scored a game-high 16 points to lead the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback basketball team to 3-0 Southeastern Conference start with a 64-60 victory over Auburn University on Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena.
The win improves the Lady Razorbacks to 11-5 on the year and 3-0 in SEC play while Auburn falls to 9-7 overall and 0-3 in conference action. The Arkansas victory ties the Lady Razorbacks best conference start in school history, matching the 2002-03 Lady Razorbacks.
“Obviously when it’s happening at the time it’s tough to watch, but at the same time, we got the win and tied the best start in school history,” Gardner said. “We missed some free throws, but we got the offensive rebounds. The fact of the matter is we got the win.”
“We’re happy, but we got complacent at the end and let a good lead get away,” senior Rochelle Vaughn said.
Arkansas led by 22 points, only to see Auburn rally to within three.
“We fought hard to get back from down to have a chance at the end,” Auburn coach Nell Fortner said.
For the Lady Razorbacks it was their precision from the three-point line throughout the contest that gave them the win. Behind a season high 13 three-point baskets, Arkansas shot 43 percent from beyond the arc and held off a furious Auburn charge in the closing moments for the victory.
“It’s contageous,” Gardner said. “When everyone is hitting, it spreads. Same thing those when you miss.”
For all of Arkansas’ three-point prowess, the Lady’Backs hit a season low 29.4% from the free throw line including failing to hit the game-icing free throws three times in the final seconds.
“Maybe we don’t have as much time to think about shots when we shoot threes than at the free throw line,” Melissa Hobbs said.
The Lady Razorbacks opened the game hot from the floor, hitting three of their first four three-point baskets, to take a seven-point lead, 13-6. The two squads would then go back and forth with their buckets for the next three minutes, before Arkansas increased their advantage to 12 with 10 minutes to play in the half.
The Tigers would come within 11 at 6:14, but solid Lady Razorback defense and timely shooting allowed Arkansas to keep Auburn caged giving the Lady’Backs a 13-point 35-22 lead heading into the break. For the half, Arkansas would shoot an impressive 42.4 percent from the floor and even better from three-point land at 42.9 percent. Conversely, Auburn hit just 34.6 percent of their shots and failed to sink a three-pointer. Arkansas’ turnover advantage, 11-5, was also a key contributing factor.
Arkansas’ rain of the three-point baskets didn’t end at the half as Auburn hoped and the barrage continued allowing the Lady’Backs to increase their lead to 19 midway through the half. Auburn did find some success running the floor and in their low post game, but the surge
With the clock under 10 minutes, Auburn found a higher gear and began to cut into Arkansas’ robust advantage. Quality shots along with several Lady Razorback miscues allowed the Tigers back into the contest. Auburn’s Joanna Clayden led the Tiger charge as she hit four three-pointers in the closing minutes. With Arkansas struggling to hint any shots, Auburn cut Arkansas’ lead down to four with 31.8 seconds to play.
A jump ball later and Auburn had the opportunity to cut the lead even further which they were able to do on a pair of free throws by Nitasha Brown. Fouling quickly on the Arkansas inbound, the Tigers sent Kristen Peoples to the line down by two, missing the front end of a one-and-one, Arkansas’ Hobbs grabbed the board and was fouled quickly for two shots. Missing both, the Lady’backs were fortunate to have Vaughn grab the rebound and take off several seconds before getting fouled herself. Vaughn hit the second of two gifts to make it a three-point Arkansas lead with 9.5 to play.
Auburn moved the ball up the court quickly and gave the last shot opportunity to Brown who came up short off the front rim from the right side. A Kristin Moore free throw iced the contest.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to the University of Alabama for a 2:00 p.m. start. For more information about Lady Razorback basketball or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.