FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In a game filled with streaks, junior Charity Ford had the decisive run as the Arkansas Razorbacks defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide, 74-69, in Southeastern Conference women’s basketball Sunday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena.
The win takes Arkansas’ SEC win streak to five games, a new school record for the Razorbacks, 17-11 overall. Alabama drops to 13-15, 1-12 in league play.
“Confidence was everything today,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “Mind over matter. This is a very mental game, and you’ve got to believe.”
The Razorbacks held Alabama at bay as the Crimson Tide fouled its way back into the game. Arkansas hit only one of two free throws in five trips to the free throw line in final 46 seconds of the game.
“We came too far to lose to a team like Alabama,” freshman Lyndsay Harris said. “We did what we had to do.”
Harris led Arkansas with 16 points, and stepped to the free throw line with six seconds left to hit one of two that gave Arkansas a three-point lead, 72-69. Senior Ayana Brereton stopped the make one, miss one string with a pair of free throws with two seconds left for the final margin. Brereton finished with 13 points.
Before the free throw parade began, it was Ford had a 5-0 personal run to snap the last tie of the game for the Crimson Tide. Ford hit a pair of free throws with 3:37 left, then backed it up with a three-point play 32 seconds later to give Arkansas a 62-57 lead.
“Games like this, we need to hit our free throws,” Ford said. “We knew that Alabama is a team where we were, so we have to play every team hard.”
“Our youth showed up today,” Collen said. “It seems like we’re playing better on the road.”
Arkansas maintained its distance from Alabama until the 13:46 when Dedrea Magee scored five unanswered to begin a 9-0 run by the Tide to pull within two, 46-44. Arkansas also lost the service of Whitney Jones who picked up her fourth foul during the Bama rally.
The Razorbacks responded with seven points in 59 seconds, capped by a fast-break led by Ford dishing to a wide-open Harris for a three-pointer, 53-44, with 9:10 left.
Alabama wasn’t going away, working an 11-2 run to tie the game, 57-57, with 3:50 left in the game. A pair of Tamara Williams jumpers keyed the comeback, capped by a three-point play from Magee.
Streaks dominated the first half. Alabama got a fast start on the Razorbacks, using a pair of Courtney Strauthers jumpers to lead 6-1.
Hoover, Ala., freshman Harris got the Razorbacks rolling with three-pointers on each end of a 10-0 run to put Arkansas up 11-6. Bama responded with a 6-0 run to retake the lead momentarily, 12-11.
A coast-to-coast drive by Ricketts and a three-pointer from Ford started a 9-0 run by Arkansas to an eight-point lead, 20-12.
The return run of 7-0 got Bama within a point, 20-19, before Arkansas launched another 9-0 burst to take its first double-digit lead, 29-19. The Razorbacks held most of that margin as the teams traded buckets for the balance of the half, going to intermission up by seven, 36-29.
Ford finished with 14 points to round out Arkansas’ double-digit scorers. Ricketts came within a bucket of another double-double, scoring eight points with a game-high 10 rebounds for Arkansas.
Raffington led all scorers with 19 points for Alabama. Magee had 14 and Strauthers 10.
Arkansas is open next Thursday in the SEC schedule, then closes on the road at SEC leader Auburn on Sunday, March 1, at 2 p.m.