TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Senior Sarah Pfeifer led four Lady Razorbacks in double-digits as the University of Arkansas defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide, 63-49,
Arkansas, 16-2, picks up its first Southeastern Conference win of the season while Alabama, 8-10, drops to 1-2 in league play.
Pfeifer had a season-high 17 points to pace the Lady’Backs, followed by 16 from Ayana Brereton.
The Lady’Backs used a punishing defense to command the game, never trailing to the home team.
“Any time you can get a double-digit win on the road in the SEC, it is huge,” Collen said. “The key was our defense.”
Only the fourth win at Tuscaloosa for the Lady’Backs in their 16 years in the SEC, it was the largest margin of victory for Arkansas over Alabama on the road and the biggest win since a 21-point decision back on 2003 in Fayetteville.
“We played great defense tonight,” Pfeifer said. “We had a lot more confidence tonight in our game.”
The Lady’Backs forced 24 turnovers out of the Crimson Tide, and picked up seven steals and five blocked shots – all three numbers season bests for conference play this year.
“Coach (Tim) Eatman had the team prepared and we knew all the pressure points of their triangle offense,” Collen said. “There’s no doubt that defense won the game.”
In the second half, it was also Arkansas’ offense as the Lady’Backs jumped on Alabama with a 10-2 run to start. The Lady’Backs shot 52% from the field for the second half, pushing the lead to as many as 19 before the final margin.
“We played with a little more confidence tonight as we built the lead,” Collen said. “We got off to a good start, and our kids sensed they were the better team. But you still have to go out there and put it up on the scoreboard.”
After Bama picked up a quick basket to start the second half from Caitlin Holifield, Arkansas launched an 8-0 run led by a pair of buckets from Brereton. Arkansas pushed its lead to 15 midway through the second half, and Alabama could never recover.
Arkansas’ defense went man-to-man from the tipoff and the change from the zone the Lady’Backs played most of the season to date shook the motion-oriented offense of Alabama. The Tide missed its first seven shots and committed six turnovers before finally scoring its first field goal of the game at the 13:51 mark.
The Lady’Backs held an 8-1 lead before Magee’s layup broke the field goal drought. Arkansas turned up the offense and broke out to a 15-3 lead off buckets from Brereton, Brittney Vaughn and a capping three-point play from Pfeifer.
Then it was Arkansas’ turn to stall as Alabama found its shot and ran off nine straight points to close to within three, 15-12. Three-pointers kept Arkansas ahead as Bama managed to tie the game at 20-20 with 2:37 left. Long shots from Vaughn and Brittney Richardson reestablished the lead and Arkansas went into halftime ahead 28-25.
Along with Pfeifer and Brereton, Arkansas got 10 points each from Vaughn and Ford. Ashlea Williams came off the bench for a season and career high six rebounds, and took two charges.
“Our bench contributed tonight, and that was a huge difference maker,” Collen said. “We don’t need them to be double-digit scorers, but when they can come in and make key plays like Ashlea’s charges and Brittney (Richardson)’s three-pointers.
Richardson had eight to almost give Arkansas five in double digits.
Alabama was led by Dedrea Magee with 19 points and Varisia Raffington had 10.