NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Arkansas post players Ashley McCray and Whitney Jones led the Razorback attack inside, but it was the No. 20 Vanderbilt Commodores that made key plays in overtime to come away with a 72-61 win on Thursday night at Memorial Gym.
For the second consecutive game, McCray responded with a new career high as she netted 20 points and pulled down a career high 15 rebounds. Senior Whitney Jones also registered a double-double of her own with 10 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. Arkansas (12-9, 1-5 SEC) dominated the boards 58-28 with McCray and Jones combining for 32 rebounds to out-boardVanderbilt (16-5, 5-1 SEC)as a duo.
“This was a game of spurts and they had the last one,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. “At times, we played incredibly hard and defended well. At time we looked like we could go against anyone in the nation. But then there were times where we threw the ball away and didn’t make good decisions. I think that is a sign of young team.”
Arkansas continued to show resilience throughout the night. Vanderbilt raced out to a 9-0 lead before Arkansas could even dent the scoreboard. The Commodores led by as many as 12 points with 12:12 left in the first half, but the Razorbacks battled back to close the lead to 27-26 at the half.
Vanderbilt tried to distance itself from Arkansas again at the start of the second half going on a 7-0 run to increase the lead to eight points. The lead ballooned to 15 points with 8:41 to play, but then the Commodores went cold scoring only one basket in the final 7:18 of the game.
Arkansas took advantage and slowly chipped away at the Commodores lead. The Razorbacks finally tied the game at 2:20 to play. The second tie of the game was at 59-59 as the waning seconds of the second half ticked off the clock. Ceira Ricketts drove to the basket with the game tied and three seconds to play, but missed on the layup. McCray pulled down yet another board, but her follow shot fell off the rim sending the game to overtime.
In overtime, Vanderbilt showed the composure of a veteran team taking back the momentum for the final time. Arkansas scored the first two points of the extra frame for its only lead of the game at 61-59, but that would be the only points in overtime for the Razorbacks as Vanderbilt rallied down the stretch to post the 72-61 win.
“You have to give credit to Vanderbilt,” Collen said. “A veteran team took over in overtime. They knew what they wanted to do and they executed. I am proud of the way our young kids played. We have to continue to make good decisions, but they played hard tonight.”
McCray led Arkansas with 20 points while freshman Ricketts poured in 17 points in the effort. Jones added 10 points with her team-leading 17 rebounds. Freshman Lyndsay Harris also chipped in six points.
Vanderbilt was led by Merideth Marsh who hit five of six three point attempts on her way to a game-high 21 points. Jessica Mooney scored 14 points while Christina Wirth and Jennifer Risper each tallied 13 points.
Arkansas will return home to host the Florida Gators on Sunday. Tipoff for the SEC game is set for 2 p.m. at Bud Walton Arena.