FAYETTEVILLE – Senior Lauren Ervin connected for 13 points but it was not enough to give the 20th-ranked University of Arkansas the upset it coveted over #11 LSU on Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, as the higher-ranked Tigers prevailed 76-54.
The loss drops the Lady Razorbacks to 15-1 on the year and 0-1 in Southeastern Conference play while LSU improves to 12-3, 1-0. Arkansas’ loss ends a school record 15-game winning streak.
“We’re frustrated with our performance tonight,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “They made us take a lot of shots that we usually don’t take, but they might easily be the best defensive team in the country.”
“Since I arrived at LSU, we’ve tried to mesh what I’ve done before with what they’ve done in the past,” LSU head coach Van Chancellor said. “Tonight, our first half on defense was as good as we’ve had this year.”
Along with the first lost of the season, the Lady’Backs saw their leading scorer and rebounder, Ervin, go down late in the second half with an injury to her right knee.
“I don’t want to speculate,” Collen said. “We will have her in for tests and a MRI tomorrow.”
It was a rough start for the Lady Razorbacks who watched LSU take the opening tip, make two passes and see Quianna Chaney drain a three from the top of the key. The trey led to a 7-0 run to begin the game and after an Ervin bucket at 15:45, the Tigers rattled off an additional seven points to grab a comfortable 14-2 lead seven minutes in. While Arkansas looked solid on the boards, they were a dismal 2-9 from the field allowing LSU to establish itself early on.
Arkansas’ inability to hit shots carried throughout the first half of play as they managed just 28 percent from the floor through 20 minutes. By contrast, LSU was able to drain 47 percent and hit five of their 11 three-point baskets.
“We couldn’t get our shots to fall early,” UA senior guard Brittney Vaughn said.
The Lady Razorbacks came out strong in the second half opening the period with a three-pointer by Ayana Brereton and following it up with a nice off-balance hook shot by Ervin. The second half saw Arkansas hit five of its first six shots including two three-pointers to cut into LSU’s 22-point halftime lead by five and down to 17 at the first media timeout.
“I was very pleased with the way we started the second half,” Collen said. “We came out and relaxed in the second half, and we played hard to the very end. That’s important. But you just can’t spot a team like LSU that many points.”
Even though the Lady Razorbacks were able to step up their game and increase their ability to score, the Tigers did the same and improved on their already robust shooting percentage. Arkansas’ increase of more than 10 percentage points was equaled by LSU’s seven.
“Coach Collen has done a great job and they have shed their mental thoughts of last year,” Chancellor said. “I knew we had to jump on them early.”
For the Lady Razorbacks, Ervin was one of three in double figures as she was joined by Vaughn, 12, and Brereton, 10. Senior Whitney Jones grabbed a game high 10 rebounds. LSU was led by Sylvia Fowles who established herself in the paint with 18 points and 10 boards. Chaney and Allison Hightower each scored 15 points for the Tigers.
“Syl(via) played like her old self tonight,” Chancellor said.
Fowles made her first start for LSU since having knee surgery during the holiday break.
The Lady Razorbacks go on the road for their next game, another SEC affair with Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. For more information about Lady Razorback basketball or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.