FAYETTEVILLE – University of Arkansas junior C’eira Ricketts scored 20 points leading four players in double figures as the Razorbacks defeated Middle Tennessee State 77-50 in a big early season win in Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas (4-0) held Middle Tennessee State (2-1) scoreless for the final 8:02 of the game while running off an 18-0 streak to close the contest.
Ricketts’ 20 led all scorers. She was assisted by a career-best 14 points from freshman Keira Peak, 14 from junior Ashley Daniels and 12 from junior Lyndsay Harris who was sidelined by a couple of early fouls.
"We played better today," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "Our defensive pressure was outstanding. Coach (Timothy) Eatman had a good defensive game plan and they (MTSU) couldn’t run their offense. I can’t say enough about Keira’s pressure on the ball. C’eira got out to a good start and Yashira (Delgado) played some great minutes. It was a really balanced effort."
Collen noted the keys to the game would include Arkansas’ ability to be aggressive, confident and turn the Blue Raiders over and he got that and more in the first half. Ricketts poured in 15 first-half points going 5-for-7 from the floor and 4-for-4 from the line.
Arkansas forced 14 MTSU turnovers and scored 20 points in the paint to lead by seven at the break. There were eight lead changes and the score was tied four times in the closely contested opening frame.
The score tightened up quickly to start the second half when Middle Tennessee State closed within two, 43-31, at the 15:40 mark. Daniels scored on a layup and Ricketts picked the pocket of Kortni Jones, drove for a layup and was fouled on the play.
That five-point surge would be the turning point in the game. Middle Tennessee State scored only nine more points as Arkansas cruised to the 27-point win.
The Razorbacks shot a season-best 50.8 percent from the field and Arkansas was 14-for-18 from the line. The Razorbacks out-rebounded the Blue Raiders, 38-27, had more assists, 17-9 and had seven blocks in the win.
The Razorbacks host Tennessee State Tuesday in a 7 p.m. game at Bud Walton Arena. It is the final consecutive home game in the opening stretch of the season as Arkansas travels to Texas-El Paso for the Thanksgiving holiday.