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Lady’Backs squander lead in final minutes

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Lady’Backs squander lead in final minutes

FAYETTEVILLE – Junior Melissa Hobbs produced a career night in both points and rebounds on Thursday but it was not enough as the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback basketball team surrendered multiple 10-point leads to the University of Tulsa in the second half, falling 66-64 at Bud Walton Arena.

The loss drops Arkansas to 3-3 on the season while Tulsa improves to 3-1.

Hobbs scored 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, but the play of Tulsa’s Jillian Robbins was the determining factor in the game’s outcome as she scored 28 and grabbed a Bud Walton Arena record 22 rebounds to lead the Golden Hurricane to victory. Robbins rebounding effort eclipsed the feat of Donna White of Mississippi Valley State who nabbed 20 off the glass on Dec. 17, 1993 against Northwestern State.

“Melissa Hobbs played as well as she could, a guard playing in the post, but she was spent by the end of the game,” UA head coach Susie Gardner said. “Robbins came to win, she just didn’t come to play.”

“This was really hard to take,” Hobbs said. “We played bad at the end of the game, and we’ve got to finish the game better. We didn’t step up when we needed to; we just didn’t get the job done.”

The Lady Razorbacks used high pressure on the defense end of the floor to build their leads that maxed out at 11 at two different times in the contest. Each Arkansas effort was countered by Tulsa who’s inside game gave Arkansas fits throughout the evening. Arkansas’ first 11-point advantage came with 6:38 to play when Whitney Jones hit a turnaround jumper. Tulsa scored the next four points, but the Lady’Backs took the lead back to 10 before the two sides traded baskets until Hobbs’ layup made it another 11-point lead.

Unfortunately for the Lady Razorbacks, Hobbs’ bucket with 3:24 on the clock would be the last points for Arkansas as Tulsa scored the contest’s final 13 points.

“Scoring at the end of the game is still a question and a concern,” Gardner said. “But even if we’re not scoring, we should have been able to stop their scoring.”

Tulsa took a one-point lead with 19.2 left, giving the Lady’Backs a chance to break the spirits of the Golden Hurricane, but a Dominique Washington shot in the paint was blocked by Megan Moody out of bounds. On the ensuing Arkansas inbound play, the Golden Hurricane’s Kara Pongonis stole the ball forcing Arkansas to foul.

The first half of action was a see-saw battle between the two squads as neither team was willing to let the other take a decided advantage. Eight lead changes and three ties in the period kept the crowd on the edge of its seats as Arkansas rained from three and Tulsa powered the ball into the paint. The Lady Razorbacks began the contest four of four from beyond the arc over the opening nine minutes, while hitting just two of their first nine two pointers. They would end the half 7-11 from three-point land, yet just 38 percent from the floor.

TU’s Jillian Robbins was a force down low as she scored 17 of her game-high 28 points in the opening 20 minutes, hitting eight shots and pulling down 11 rebounds for a first-half double-double. Tulsa’s inside game produced 20 points in the paint to Arkansas’ eight and pulled down 35 rebounds for a plus-17 advantage.

The first half of action saw Arkansas fall behind at the 11-minute mark, 17-16, then rattle off 12 of the next 16 points to take the biggest lead of the game at seven. The lead quickly evaporated following a timeout as Tulsa scored 10 of the next 12 points to regain the lead. Arkansas went into the locker rooms with a two-point lead thanks to a Kristin Peoples three with 27 seconds remaining.

The Lady Razorbacks are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they take on the University of Missouri-Kansas City at Bud Walton Arena at 2:00 p.m. For more information about Lady Razorback basketball or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)