NORMAL, Ill. – The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team’s season came to a close Sunday with a 60-49 loss at Illinois State in the quarterfinals of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament in Normal, Ill.
Arkansas (22-12) struggled with poor shooting for the entire game finishing the contest 17-for-64 and shooting just 26.6 percent. The Razorbacks were paced by sophomore Sarah Watkins who scored 16 points and was the lone player in double-figures for Arkansas. Freshman Chrisstasia Walter added eight and freshman Keira Peak and junior C’eria Ricketts scored seven each for Arkansas. The loss sees Arkansas score a program low 49 points in a WNIT game.
"It was a frustrating loss," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "Overall, I’m pleased with the season. We missed a lot of open shots and I think we were surprised with how physical Illinois State was. They were prepared to be physical and to rebound with us. If you combine that with the poor shooting early, I’m not surprised we were down early."
Illinois State (24-10) finished the game shooting 42.6 percent on 23-for-54 shooting and had three players in double-digits. They move on to face the winner of the Colorado/Southern California in the next round.
Illinois State blasted out of the gates shooting 4-for-5 taking a 10-0 lead and forcing the Razorbacks into a quick timeout at the 15:29 mark of the first half. Arkansas meanwhile opened 0-for-7 and struggled with the offensive boards in the slow start.
Arkansas’ shooting woes continued to the second media timeout with the Razorbacks just 1-for-15 at the 11:11 mark. The Razorbacks stepped up the effort on the defensive end and were able to alter and slow down the Redbirds but couldn’t get on the board.
Ricketts hit her second basket of the game, a tough, eight-foot jumper, at the 8:33 mark and Watkins got on the board with a short turnaround but Arkansas was just 3-for-20 at the third media timeout.
Watkins scored again and was fouled making her bonus shot and Walter got into the scoring column with a three-pointer at the 4:06 mark but the Razorbacks trailed 25-12, at the final media timeout in the first half.
As the half came to a close, Arkansas went into the locker room trailing, 31-18. The Razorbacks were just 7-for-31 shooting 22.6 percent. Arkansas was out-boarded 27-15 in the first 20 minutes of play.
"We are disappointed with the loss but we have nearly everyone coming back next year," Collen said. "I’m happy we had this experience and I know this will help us build for next season."