LEXINGTON, Ky. – In a game of runs, the University of Arkansas came up just short as the Kentucky Wildcats managed to hold off the Razorbacks, 72-63, at Memorial Coliseum in Southeastern Conference women’s basketball action this afternoon.
Freshman Lyndsay Harris led four Razorbacks in double digits with 15 points.
Arkansas, 11-6, dropped to 0-2 in SEC play. Kentucky, also 11-6, evened its SEC record at 1-1, and the series with Arkansas at 12-12.
“We got aggressive in the final minutes, and I’m proud of a young team that battled back so many times,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “When you go out on the road, you have to battle and you can’t afford to let many opportunities get away.”
A 12-2 run late keyed by three-pointers from Shanita Arnold and Ayana Brereton pulled Arkansas to within four, 63-59, with less than three minutes left.
The Razorback defense held Kentucky without a field goal for the final six and a half minutes of the game, but free throws allowed the Wildcats to keep their lead over the final minutes.
Senior Whitney Jones went for a steal with 41 seconds left, and Charity Ford was whistled for a technical foul, slamming the loose ball to the floor. Kentucky got three of the four throws, part of a string of 10 free throws in the last 6:30 of the game.
On the day, UK hit 26-of-36 at the free throw line while the Razorbacks were 14-of-15.
“They won the game at the free throw line today,” Collen said.
Arkansas outrebounded the taller Wildcats, 42-38, and outshot UK, 34% to 32%.
Of all the runs, the one that proved the difference maker came early in the second half for Kentucky.
A deep three-pointer by Blue Grass native Ceira Ricketts tied the game at 34-34 to open the second half, but was the last time the Razorbacks were close to UK.
A 14-0 run by the Wildcats that lasted almost seven minutes put Kentucky ahead 48-34 before a Harris jumper at 12:29 snapped the scoring streak.
“We frittered away the lead at that point, but I was proud of the way we fought back,” Collen said. “You can’t give a team on the road those kind of runs.”
Ricketts fought back for Arkansas with six straight points in an 8-1 run to close the gap to seven, 49-42. The Cats got back-to-back three-pointers from Amani Franklin to regain their double-digit lead which held until the final minutes of the game.
The see-saw nature of the game started in the first half. After a 5-0 start for the Wildcats, an 8-0 run gave Arkansas its first lead. The Razorbacks held UK scoreless for 5:50 with a switching defensive scheme.
A three-point play from Carly Ormerod capped a 7-0 run to return the Wildcats to the lead with 8:50 in the half at 14-12.
Harris drives resulting in three straight fouls from the Wildcats and the start of a 9-0 return run by Arkansas. Harris scored the first six in the run before a three-pointer by Ford. The junior made her first points since leaving the lineup with a stress fracture on Dec. 29.
Cats responded with another 8-0 run to lead 31-23 before Ford scored five at the end of the half to bring the Razorbacks to within three, 34-31, at halftime.
Ford tied her season high of 12 in the first half with Harris adding 13.
Along with Harris, the Razorbacks got double-digit scoring from Ford with 14, Ricketts with 13 and Jones with 10.
Three Wildcats scored double digits led by 16 for Franklin. Victoria Dunlap had 15 and Carly Morrow 13. Eleia Roddy led all rebounders with 12 for the Cats.
Arkansas returns home for an open date on Thursday before hosting Auburn on Sunday, Jan. 18, at 2 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena.