FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sunday’s game was promoted as Be Arkansas Day at Bud Walton Arena. The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team did everything it could to uphold the meaning of “Be Arkansas;” the Razorbacks fought hard and stayed together the entire 40 minutes. Arkansas just did not have enough though Sunday afternoon inside Bud Walton Arena, losing 60-51 to the No. 7/9-ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Facing Tennessee was the third top-15 ranked team Arkansas has battled in the last eight days.
The loss sends Arkansas to its fourth-consecutive defeat to open Southeastern Conference play, with a record of 0-4 in conference and 10-6 overall. Tennessee improves to 14-2 overall and 4-0 in SEC.
Sophomore Jessica Jackson continued her strong play in conference games with an 18-point effort coming off the bench.
Junior Melissa Wolff recorded her fifth double-double of the season, pairing 10 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Arkansas held a 42-38 edge on the glass, the 12th opponent it has outrebounded this season. Today’s game was just the third time Tennessee has been outrebounded this season, who is the conference’s leading rebounding team. Arkansas’ advantage on the boards contributed to a 15 second-chance points.
Senior Calli Berna directed the offense efficiently, dishing out five assists, scoring four points and pulling down nine rebounds.
The Razorback defense held the Lady Vols to 34.7 percent shooting, but the Razorback offense could not take full advantage shooting 31.7 percent.
The game started out slow on both ends as Tennessee did not score its first bucket until the 15:26 mark. Following a couple of Tennessee free throws to put them up 9-8 with 10 minutes left, Arkansas went on a 7-0 run over the next five minutes to grab a 15-9 lead. Arkansas would not trail again the first frame and took a 21-18 edge into the locker room. The Razorback defense allowed just six made field goals from Tennessee while forcing eight turnovers. Eighteen points in the first half is the lowest output for Tennessee in any half this season.
Opening the second half, Berna knocked down a triple on a catch-and-shoot to give Arkansas its largest lead of the game at the 18:08 mark. Tennessee answered right back, hitting a three-ball and then completing an old-fashioned three-point play to trim the lead to three.
Arkansas would again push the lead back up to nine at the under 12 media timeout, with help from Jackson scoring 10 straight points.
Arkansas led 40-37 with 7:59 left but that would be the last lead of the game for the Razorbacks as Tennessee took its first lead of the game at 6:41. The Lady Vols continued on a 14-2 run, including making back-to-back threes on consecutive possessions to go up by nine. Arkansas kept fighting and had the lead down to seven with 2:45 left but could not get any closer. After being held to 21.4 percent shooting in the first half, Tennessee shot 52.4 percent in the final 20 minutes.
Ariel Massengale led the Lady Vols, scoring 16 points and recording four assists. Isabelle Harrison contributed 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Arkansas is back in action Sunday, Jan. 18, to play Missouri at Bud Walton Arena. Tip time is set for 2 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network.
“We were in the ball game up until the last couple of minutes. They made shots in the second half, shooting 52 percent against us, I’d like to know the last time Tennessee was held to 18 points in one half. I was very happy we were able to hold them to such a small number in the first half. They did not outfight us, they did not outcompete us, and we were aggressive on the boards. I am really disappointed for my team. We could be 4-0, or 3-1, and instead we’re 0-4 in conference play. It doesn’t get any easier from here on out with Mizzou coming to town next Sunday.”
POST GAME NOTES
– Sophomore Khadijah West started her first career game today. She tallied four rebounds and two steals in 14 minutes
– Senior Calli Berna grabbed a season-high nine rebounds
– Sophomore Jessica Jackson recorded 18 points, the 16th time in 21 career conference games she’s been in double figures.
– Junior Melissa Wolff tallied her fifth double-double of the season and the seventh of her career after scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Wolff also tied a career-high with four assists
– Arkansas outrebounded Tennessee, 42-38, the 12th opponent Arkansas has beaten on the boards. Today was just the third time all season Tennessee was outrebounded, as they entered Sunday’s game leading the conference with a +11.4 margin
– Arkansas’ defense held Tennessee to 18 first-half points, the lowest output in any half for the Lady Volunteers this season.