FAYETTEVILLE – A new starting lineup hits the court on Monday evening as the Arkansas Lady Razorback basketball team hosts Wichita State at 7 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena.
Head Coach Susie Gardner made the change after the Lady’Backs’ weekend swing through middle Tennessee. In spite of the 4-0 start, Gardner wanted to get a better matchup with 0-1 Shockers.
Senior Danielle Allen (7.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg), sophomore Ayana Brereton (1.8 ppg) and freshman Charity Ford (1.7 ppg) are set to join Arkansas’ leading scorer, junior Lauren Ervin (12.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg) and junior point guard Brittney Vaughn (7 ppg, 4.5 apg).
Two seniors, post Sarah Pfeifer and shooting guard Leslie Howard, that started the first four games will come off the bench along with freshman Tanisha Smith. Pfeifer is Arkansas’ second leading scorer at 11 ppg.
“I talked to Sarah about this move, and we really feel like Danielle gives us a better matchup with Wichita’s Kiki Stephens,” Gardner said. “For Sarah, this isn’t a demotion, she’s just not starting. Besides, I know I have instant offense that we can put into the game with her on the bench.”
Both Pfeifer and Allen are back from season-ending knee injuries last season.
The addition of Brereton and Ford to the starters gives Arkansas a larger, quick lineup at tipoff.
“We’ve had some trouble with offense, and now we’re going to try to be even more defensive,” Gardner said. “That said, Charity has been one of the most improved players the past several practices and Ayana gave us a boost last game at Austin Peay.”
The starting lineup change may bring about déjà vu as the last time the teams’ met Arkansas started Allen with Pfeifer coming off the bench. Defense dominated the game for Arkansas as the Lady’Backs held WSU scoreless the final 5:50 of the opening half, and Pfiefer came off the bench to score 16 points in only 15 minutes played.
At 4-0, Arkansas is off to its best start under Gardner, and the best start since the 2002-03 season at 5-0.
Arkansas’ balance is a big part of the success with seven players scoring over six points a game but only two in double digits.
Ervin has anchored the lane in the first four games, and currently ranks first in the SEC for defensive rebounding and second in the league for blocked shots. The 6-3 junior college transfer is averaging 3.7 blocks per game, and had five at Austin Peay on Saturday.
Wichita State arrives in Fayetteville idle for the past nine days since losing an opening round Pre-Season Women’s NIT game to Hofstra on Nov. 10, 79-72. That was the same day Arkansas opened the season at Clemson, and the Lady’Backs have played three times since.
Stephens, a 5-11 junior forward from Tulsa, Okla., lead Wichita State with 19 points against Hofstra. Defensive center, 6-4 senior Antoinette Wells, had only seven points and five rebounds in the game, limited in her play by early fouls. Sophomore 5-10 forward Daria Frazier (5 ppg) and guards 5-7 sophomore Whitney Rice (5 ppg) and 5-11 senior Lexee McDonald (7 ppg) round out the Shocker starters.
Arkansas leads the series with Wichita, 7-1, and is undefeated in Fayetteville against the Shockers. The Lady’Backs ride a seven-game win streak against WSU overall.