MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Freshman Ceira Ricketts picked up her first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the University of Arkansas to a 76-69 win over the Memphis Tigers in women’s college basketball at the FedEx Forum Wednesday night.
Arkansas, 6-1, handed the Tigers, 5-3, their first home loss of the season, but the Razorbacks had to hold off a furious comeback from a double-digit second half deficit by Memphis.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it was a good road win in an arena with a spirited crowd,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “I hope that we got better as a team. When the game got tight, their crowd came up and we had to work against that.”
The first true road game of the season for Arkansas was a team effort with several players picking up early season highs.
Whitney Jones also picked up her first double-double of the year for Arkansas with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“We found a way to win,” Collen said. “We got off to a slow start from behind the arc and we were a little surprised when they opened up in zone against us.”
A slow start after halftime allowed Memphis to cut the Razorback lead down to five, 38-33. A three-pointer from Brittney Richardson and a steal and layup by Ricketts gave Arkansas a 5-0 run in a matter of seconds.
“Our defense has to set the tempo for our offense,” Collen said. “We had some foolish turnovers ourselves to keep them close.”
Memphis’ Tehani Goldsmith kept Memphis close with seven early second half points until the Razorback defense shut down the Tigers’ offense. Memphis could only score a single field goal and free throw over a four and a half minute stretch.
During Memphis’ drought, Arkansas posted a 10-3 run, capped by a pair of Charity Ford jumpers to lead 57-44.
Paris Leonard single-handedly brought Memphis back into contention with eight straight points down the stretch. Her driving layup with 4:20 to play cut the UA spread to nine, 65-56.
At the same time, Arkansas lost one of its senior leaders, Ayana Brereton, who fouled out of the game with nine points at the 4:31 mark.
Back-to-back layups from Leonard cut the lead down to six, then a pair of free throws with 2:55 made it a four-point game, 66-62.
It was as close as the Tigers could get as clutch shots from Jones and Shanita Arnold in the final two minutes allowed Arkansas to keep the lead.
Richardson and Coldwater, Miss., freshman Ashley Daniels each scored season highs. Richardson finished with nine and Daniels seven.
In the first half, Ricketts and Jones alternated buckets, with Ricketts providing the assists to Jones to establish the lead for the Razorbacks from the tipoff. Defense and turnovers dominated the opening ten minutes, with Memphis using a fast pace to pull even with Arkansas, 13-13, with 10:24 in the period.
A 5-0 burst from Lyndsay Harris and Brittney Richardson re-established Arkansas lead, and pressure from Ricketts and Arnold resulted in easy layups off steals to push the Razorback lead to 11, 32-21, with 2:04 left.
Ricketts had three of Arkansas’ 11 first-half steals as the Razorbacks went to halftime with a 36-28 lead.
Razorbacks were whistled for a season-high 23 personal fouls, seeing Brereton and Richardson foul out of the game.
Leonard led all scorers with 27 points for Memphis, followed by 14 for Goldsmith.
Arkansas returns to Fayetteville briefly before departing Thursday evening for the Commerce Bank Wildcat Tournament at Kansas State. The Razorbacks open with Mississippi Valley State at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon.