VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Senior Sarah Pfeifer and junior Ayana Brereton led three players in double figures as the University of Arkansas won its opening game of the 2007 Canada tour over University of British Columbia, 69-42.
The Lady Razorbacks travel to suburban Vancouver to face Simon Fraser, the defending Canadian national champions, at 9 p.m. central time.
The SFU game will be live on KXUA (88.3 FM) and KAYH (89.3 FM).
While Arkansas got solid offense, it was opportunistic defense that carried the day.
“You’re always pleased when you win, but we played hard and especially in the second half,” UA head coach Tom Collen said.
Arkansas went with a veteran starting lineup, and it paid off for Collen.
“We are clearly looking for some more offensive weapons, and when you consider that three of the starting five totaled about five points last year, we made some steps toward that today,” Collen said.
The first-year Lady’Back coach was referring to Brereton, Whitney Jones and Charity Ford that were role players last season for Arkansas. Today they had 31 of Arkansas’ 69 points, and Jones with 10 points and nine boards was one shy of the double-double.
Pfeifer scored 13 points off the bench for Arkansas while Brereton picked up her 13 sparking the Lady’Back offense at the start of each half of play.
“We all need to step up and do our part for the offense,” Brereton said. “It just felt great to be back out on the court playing.”
Arkansas had 36 of its 69 points off turnovers, while the Thunderbirds managed only five. For the game, Arkansas forced 35 turnovers from the former No. 1 ranked Canadian squad and picked up 20 steals.
“We’re going to have to be a better team on defense this year,” Collen said. “Some days we’re going to need to figure out ways to score, and that’s from steals and turnovers.”
An 8-0 run by Arkansas to start the third quarter resulted to a 26-point lead by the Lady’Backs at the end of the period, 54-26. Defense drove the run as the Lady’Backs allowed only five points to the Thunderbirds in the third quarter.
“They made a run at us at the end for the first half, but we came out in the second half and just ran it down their throats,” Pfeifer said.
The smothering 2-3 zone played most of the game by Arkansas ramped up into a full-court press at the close of the third quarter.
Brereton opened up with the first three-pointer of her career to give Arkansas its first seven points and the lead, 7-4, early.
Arkansas’ defense took over the game, holding the Thunderbirds to only seven field goal attempts in the opening frame.
The Lady’Backs went on a 12-0 run over five and a half minutes, led by four points from Pfeifer off the bench.
Forcing 11 turnovers out of UBC in the opening quarter, Arkansas used seven steals to build a 15-8 lead.
Suffering its own offensive lapse to start the second quarter getting only four free throws from Pfeifer for most of the period, but managed to build a 13-point lead, 23-10, with three minutes left in the half.
UBC’s offense went to the outside with back-to-back three-pointers to fuel an 8-0 run to trim Arkansas lead to seven, 23-18. The teams traded buckets before a three-point play by Zara Huntley.
Erica McGuinness and Devan Lisson led UBC with 10 points each.