FAYETTEVILLE – Junior Ayana Brereton tallied 18 points to lead the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback basketball team to a come-from-behind 52-47 win against Missouri Southern State University on Sunday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Trailing from the tip, Arkansas turned the corner in the closing four minutes of the game, taking its first lead of the contest with 3:07 to play on a Lauren Ervin jumper. The Lions battled back to tie and the game remained in doubt until the closing 30 seconds when a three-pointer from Charity Ford put Arkansas ahead for good.
“That was a typical exhibition game,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “We made some mistakes, we learned some things, and in the end, it’s important that we won. You want to win, but you also want to learn and get ready for the regular season.”
The Lady’Backs’ offense struggled early in the contest, and used its strong defense in the second half to pull even with the pesky Lions.
“We had to get used to our new offense and defense,” senior Sarah Pfeifer said. “We want to perform better than we did. Our coach called some plays that we have never practiced and we just went out and did it as a team.”
Missouri Southern opened the game with a three and it was the first of several in the opening 20 minutes of play. Arkansas would match the effort with a long distance bucket of its own, but the Lions would then go on an 8-2 run over the next five minutes to grab a six-point lead at 13:38. Arkansas would make a run of its won to cut the lead to a single point at 6:47, but Missouri Southern would bounce back with back-to-back threes to take the lead back to seven.
The Lady Razorbacks were plagued with poor shooting in the first half, hitting just 21 percent of their shots and only 15 percent of their three-point attempts. Conversely, Missouri Southern banged home 35 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the arc. The shooting contrast gave the Lions a six-point lead at the break, 28-22.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to come to Fayetteville to play,” Missouri Southern head coach Maryann Mitts said. “My expectations were to play hard and I feel we accomplished that goal. I felt that Arkansas came in prepared and ready for a challenge. I felt Brereton was their key player and no one on our team could match up to her abilities.”
The Lions cooled off in the second half, allowing Arkansas to pull back to within three before a steal and ensuing layup put Arkansas behind by just one with 11:44 to play. Missouri Southern would drain a three on the next possession, but a persistent Lady Razorback squad continued to keep it close which led to a Brereton put back with 8:47 to play to tie the score at 37.
Both squads would trade baskets for the next five minutes matching each other at 39, 41 and 43 points. The Lions would grab a 45-43 edge but Ervin would tie it up for a fourth time and get the foul call on her layup. Missing the shot from the charity stripe, Ervin would grab the rebound and reset the offense which went right back through the preseason all-SEC second-team player and she would deliver Arkansas’ first lead of the ballgame on a layup, 47-45, with 3:05 to play.
Arkansas’ 52 points is the lowest total it has ever scored in an exhibition match. The previous low was 53 during the 1995-96 season against the US National Team.
Brereton led all scorers with 18, followed by 13 off the bench for Sarah Pfeifer. MSSU was led by Fatai Hala’Api’Api with 13 and 12 from Robin Kantin.
The Lady Razorbacks are back in action next Sunday afternoon when they open the regular season against Lipscomb at Bud Walton Arena at 2 p.m. For more information about Lady Razorback basketball or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.