FAYETTEVILLE – Junior Sarah Pfeifer hit for 16 points to lead the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback basketball team to a 13-point, 61-48 win over the UNLV Lady Rebels in the opening round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament in Fayetteville on Friday evening at Bud Walton Arena.
The win improves the Lady Razorbacks to 17-13 overall, while UNLV falls to 16-15.
“I’m just glad we won,” Arkansas head coach Susie Gardner said. “We played a great first half and just kept plugging away after we lost our rhythm in the second.”
Arkansas’ second half began similar to the first as it was cold from the floor, but hard-nosed defense kept UNLV at bay. The teams began to trade baskets as the clock reached the midway point, but the Lady Rebels could not get the score under a seven-point Arkansas advantage. That was until the clock reached 11 minutes and a short jumper put UNLV within five, but a three by Rochelle Vaughn upped the Lady Razorback lead once more.
As the game wore on, UNLV continued to chip away at the Lady Razorback lead. Coming within three with just over five minutes to play, Kristin Peoples hit a pair of free throws to again make it a two-possession contest. A pair of missed opportunities on either end of the floor led to a Pfeifer jumper in the paint. A player control foul on UNLV on the next possession gave Pfeiffer the opportunity to hit another jumper from the lane and open up an eight-point Lady Razorback lead with 2:44 to play.
“UNLV switched to a 2-3 zone which put pressure on our guards and may have caused some turnovers,” Gardner said. “UNLV is a quick team and was able to penetrate and get some offensive rebounds and that was the only weakness in our game tonight.”
“We kind of felt like we haven’t played in two weeks,” Arkansas guard Adrienne Bush said. “You can run all kinds of things in practice, but its just not like it is in a game. It seems every time down the floor UNLV ran a different kind of defense and it caught us off guard.”
The final moments of the contest saw UNLV fouls and Arkansas hitting a good portion of their free opportunities to hold on to the victory.
Poor shooting at the outset from both squads kept the game close through the first seven minutes of play as the squads combined to go 5 of 23 from the floor. UNLV took the brunt of the shooting woes as they hit just one of 10 to open the contest and added seven turnovers in the process. The Lady Razorbacks were the beneficiaries of the Lady Rebel miscues as they converted the turnovers into six of their first 11 points as they took an 11-4 lead.
As UNLV got used to the rims, Arkansas went cold as the two squads shooting percentages began to break even at 28 percent. The Lady Rebels brought a seven-point deficit down to four, but a three from Melissa Hobbs made it a seven-point lead again at the five-minute mark. Arkansas’ lead grew to 10 late in the half as it continued to play stellar defense and force UNLV into poor shots. A steal and lay-up by Vaughn in the final moments of the period put Arkansas up 34-22 at the half.
Along with Pfeifer’s 16, Bush had a career night as she scored 12 points, grabbed four boards and took four charges. UNLV was led RanDee Henry who tallied 15 and Sheena Moore who scored 11.
The Lady Razorbacks next contest comes on the road when they face the Arkansas State Indians in Jonesboro, Ark., on Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. For more information about Lady Razorback basketball or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.