FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Tom Collen leads the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team back into action Tuesday when the Razorbacks host Coppin State at 7 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas enters the battle with a 5-2 record facing a 2-4 Eagle team that has dropped four straight games. Despite Coppin State’s recent struggles, Collen recognizes that this will be no easy game for Arkansas who is also coming off a one-point overtime loss at No. 18 Oklahoma.
“It’s always hard to come off a loss,” Collen said. “We’re staying positive and this team knows we can’t overlook anyone. CSU is going to come in and give us a good game and we have to be ready.”
Coppin State enters the week with a 2-4 record. The Eagles opened the year with wins over West Virginia State and St. Augustine’s but have lost their last four to George Washington, Wake Forest, Robert Morris and Oklahoma State. Shante Cummings has been the Eagles leading scorer in four of the six games and leads the team offensively this season.
Cummings averages 14.7 ppg and is second with 5.7 rpg. Jeanine Manely leads the team in rebounding with 7.0 boards-per-game and is second with 9.5 ppg this year.
The Razorbacks are 1-0 all-time against the Eagles. The lone meeting came Dec. 29, 2005, at the FIU Sun and Fun Classic in Miami, Fla. Where the Razorbacks picked up a 49-33 win.
The Razorbacks are led by Senior Charity Ford who transitioned from a bench player last year (the SEC’s Sixth Player of the Year) to a starter this year and leads the team in scoring. The Texas native averages 12.9 ppg this year, well above her 7.3 average of last season.
In addition to Ford, Arkansas is getting good minutes from freshman Sarah Watkins and sophomore Ashley Daniels. Watkins has had five games in double figures with a season/career-best 20 against Alcorn State. She was just two shy of that with 18 at No. 18 Oklahoma last week.
Daniels is not your prototypical post player. At 6-2, the long, lanky Daniels is filling that role for the Razorbacks and leads the team with 47 rebounds this year and a team-best 6.7 rpg. She pulled in 10 boards at No. 18 OU, one shy of her personal best of 11 set last year against MVSU.
Sophomore C’eira Ricketts was one of the most talked about Razorbacks coming into the season. Ricketts has had five games in double digit scoring including four in a row. She tallied a season-best 16 against Kansas State and added 15 despite missing the overtime period at No. 18 Oklahoma.
“We have seven or eight players who are capable of getting 20 points in a game,” Collen said. “But if we get five or six in the 10-12 range we will win a lot of games. Balance is going to be a good thing for this team.
“We know Coppin State has good guard play,” he continued. “They are very athletic and have played good teams this year. They’ve been competive and are not going to be overwhelmed by us. They get good inside pressure. We’re going to have to come out and play with a lot of intensity. That’s what we’re looking for.”
The Coppin State game is the last contest before finals for Arkansas. The Razorbacks next travel to Northwestern Dec. 17, followed by the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas, Nev., Dec. 19-21.