FAYETTEVILLE – Senior Brittany Vaughn scored 14 points and led the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback basketball team to a hard-fought victory over the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena, 56-42.
The win improves Arkansas to 17-4 overall and 2-4 in Southeastern Conference action while State falls to 13-7 and 1-4 in league play. The Lady Razorback defense held MSU to just 42 points, a record for futility by a conference opponent exceeding the 43 points scored by Kentucky during the 2003 season.
“I don’t know what it looked like from the stands, but I know we didn’t look like 17-4 team today,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. “I thought that we did look like a team that doesn’t want to quit. We certainly could have quit when we were 0-15 from the floor, but didn’t. I was proud of the way we played and got back into the game. It was a huge effort and I was really proud of them at halftime.”
The Lady’Backs failed to score a point through nearly eight minutes of play spotting Mississippi State with a 10-0 lead. Arkansas’ Charity Ford finally ended the debacle by hitting the front end of a two shot foul, but Arkansas missed its first 15 field goals before Brittany Vaughn scored Arkansas’ first bucket at 8:45.
“I think that as a team we came together and realized that even though we were not making shots we had to keep shooting and get to the offensive boards,” Vaughn said. “I remember a Vanderbilt game where we couldn’t score, but nothing like this.”
Fortunately for Arkansas, it still managed to play solid defense despite its scoring woes and held the Bulldogs to just 13 points and forced nine turnovers keeping itself in the contest. Following Vaughn’s driving lay-up, Arkansas followed it up hitting 11 of the next 13 field goal attempts. The Lady’Backs perseverance paid off as they tied the game for the first time since the opening tip with a little over four minutes to play in the half and took their first lead at 3:54 on a Vaughn three pointer. Arkansas would extend its lead into the break to 29-23.
“You must give credit to Arkansas, they kept scratching,” MSU head coach Sharon Fanning said. “They are a scrappy team with athleticism. The difference today was rebounding and the free throw line. They outplayed us and had better balance. Our team chemistry was not there.”
With the halftime lead, Arkansas did little to give Miss. State hope of making a comeback. The Lady Razorback lead grew to as many as 15 in the early parts of the half thanks to crisp passing and timely shooting. The Bulldogs would make a small run midway through the period, but the Lady Razorbacks would maintain a 10-point lead until the final minutes. A quick three by Miss. St. with just under three minutes to play cut the Lady Razorback lead to nine, but a pair of free throws on the next possession increased the advantage back to 11.
Arkansas fell behind early in the game on the rebound front, but surged back to grab 41 boards to the Bulldogs 34. Four Lady’Backs scored in double figures with Vaughn connecting for her 14 and the trio of Whitney Jones, Charity Ford and Ayana Brereton hitting for 11 each. Brereton also led all rebounders with 11 for a double-double. Miss. St. was led by Marneshia Richard who scored 12 points.
The Lady Razorback are on the road for their next contest, a Feb. 3 meeting with South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. For more information about Lady Razorback basketball or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.