FAYETTEVILLE – The Arkansas Lady Razorbacks ring in the New Year back in the Associated Press Women’s Top 25 and with the reigning Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week.
Senior Lauren Ervin earned her second player of the week award on Monday afternoon. The 6-3 senior picked up her seventh and eighth double points and rebounding game of the season as she led Arkansas to the title at the Blue Sky Classic.
Rallying from an 11-point deficit to defeat one of the top Big East teams, Marquette, in the title game, Arkansas’ undefeated record finally earned the Lady’Backs inclusion in the AP poll at 25th.
Arkansas, 14-0, is no longer the only unranked undefeated team in the country, and is back in the writer’s poll for the first time in a little over a year. This week last season, Arkansas was 22nd.
“It’s great that we’ve gotten some recognition for the team,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “At 14-0, I know we didn’t have a signature win early, but winning 14 games is an achievement.”
Ervin was voted the MVP of the Blue Sky Classic, and her clutch plays in the final 30 seconds allowed Arkansas to beat Marquette, 71-69. Ervin forced a turnover on the Golden Eagles’ final possession, then hit the winning bucket with 12 seconds left in the game.
“We’re excited that Lauren is getting the recognition that we think she deserves,” Collen said. “She’s clearly been the centerpiece of our fast start and she’s responded well to the pressures of being the go-to player. I think we know it’s going to get tougher on her as we face Texas Tech this weekend and start SEC next week. Her unselfishness will come into play then and be a big part of the team continuing to progress.”
Arkansas closes the non-conference portion of its season on Saturday, Jan. 5, at 2 p.m. by hosting Texas Tech. It is the first game for the Lady’Backs with the Lady Raiders since Arkansas downed Tech for the Southwest Conference Classic title in Dallas, Texas, in March 1991.
“We realize the tougher part of our schedule is ahead of us and we look forward to the more important challenge of being in the top 25 when the season ends,” Collen said. “If that happens, we’ll know that we have taken a big step in rebuilding the program and building a solid foundation, which is our goal for the first season.”
Arkansas broke into the ESPN/USA TODAY WBCA coaches’ poll last week at 23rd. This is the second SEC player of the week for Erwin.
Tickets for Saturday’s game are available at the door, or in advance through the Razorback Ticket Office.