EVANSTON, Ill. — A 20-point halftime deficit proved too much to overcome as the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team fell at Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., Thursday.
The Razorbacks (6-3) suffered the 67-55 defeat at the hands of the Wildcats (8-2) who are receiving votes in both nation polls this week.
“It was a frustrating beginning no doubt,” said Arkansas head coach Tom Collen. “We didn’t come out and control the tempo like we wanted and that put us in a bind. We were a better basketball team when we played at our tempo. We made two great runs at them and cut into the lead. We were imploring to the team that we just need one more run. I believe the team tried as hard as they could, we just didn’t hit enough shots.”
Sophomore C’eira Ricketts paced Arkansas with a team-best 12 points followed by senior Charity Ford with 10 points. Sophomore Lyndsay Harris added eight and Arkansas got six from freshman Sarah Watkins in the loss.
The Razorbacks struggled from the floor shooting just 32.4 percent for the game. Arkansas took 24 three-point shots hitting just four in the contest.
Arkansas out-rebounded Northwestern, 45-38, and had more steals, 12-5, than the Wildcats. The Razorbacks also limited their turnovers to just 15 forcing 18 from their opponent. Ricketts led the team along with freshman Quistelle Williams with eight boards apiece.
Arkansas bolted out of the gates after the opening tip and took a quick lead when Harris hit a three. The Razorbacks used a couple of Northwestern turnovers to stretch the lead to five but the Wildcats countered with a solid half-court offense behind the hot hand of Beth Marshall.
Marshall hit three consecutive threes giving Northwestern an 18-11 lead and forcing a Razorback timeout at 12:38. The teams broke from the huddle only to have Marshall hit her fourth three-pointer in a row. Northwestern continued to open the lead taking a 23-15 lead at the media timeout. Marshall finished with a game-high 24 points.
Both teams settled into a rhythm after the second media timeout exchanging baskets but the early deficit by the Razorbacks was too much to overcome before the halftime break.
Northwestern blew out the lead to 20 at the half, leading 43-23. Arkansas shot just 30.3 percent from the floor and managed just two free throws in the half. The Wildcats hit 56.7 percent including a 7-of-13 performance from the three-point line adding to the lead.
Northwestern forced Arkansas out of its half-court, inside offense putting pressure on the guards to stretch the floor as the game continued. Marshall maintained her hot hand in the second frame as Northwestern maintained nearly a 20-point advantage as the second stanza started.
The Razorbacks put together a mini-run and closed the gap to nine points behind some stellar defense and a couple of key steals but that’s as close as the score would get. The Razorback rally prompted a Northwestern timeout at the 10:19 mark and the Wildcats responded by slowing the pace of the game and getting into their half-court offense.
As a result, Arkansas’ scoring opportunities were limited and the Razorbacks were unable to complete the comeback.
Arkansas’ game at Northwestern will air tape delay at 10 a.m. central Friday, Dec. 18, on the Big Ten Network. The Razorbacks depart Chicago following today’s game traveling to Las Vegas, Nev., for the Duel in the Desert, Dec. 19-21. The Razorbacks open play with DePaul (7-3) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The remaining games are based on wins and losses.