FAYETTEVILLE — A seven and a half minute scoring drought in the second half doomed the University of Arkansas women’s basketball team as they suffered a 71-57 Southeastern Conference loss to No. 18 Kentucky in Bud Walton Arena Sunday.
Arkansas (9-14, 1-9 SEC) played one of its best halves of basketball in the first period but Kentucky (20-3, 8-2) shut down the Razorbacks’ second-chance points in the second half closing the door.
“Kentucky is such a good team,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. “They are extremely athletic and confident. We played with them in the first half and had them where we wanted them. I thought the energy level in the second half was low and we didn’t respond on the defensive side of the ball. It was a frustrating game.”
Sophomore Lyndsay Harris paced Arkansas with 18 points. Harris had four three-pointers in the first half and was shut down behind the arc in the second frame. Senior Charity Ford edged over the double-digit mark with 10 points and freshman Quistelle Williams had a career-best 10 rebounds for Arkansas.
Arkansas spotted Kentucky an 8-0 run to open the game but rallied with its own 8-0 scoring spurt tying the contest in the first half. The game was a back-and-forth battle for the next 12 minutes ending in 33-33 halftime tie.
The Razorbacks shot 40.6 percent in the opening frame but struggled shooting just 21.4 percent in the second half. Arkansas was 6-for-28 in the final 20 minutes and was out-rebounded 45-34 for the game.
“The difference was fatigue,” Harris said. “We knew that playing against a team like Kentucky it was now or never. We had some mental breakdowns on defense in the second half. Kentucky made five straight baskets in transition and we struggled from that point. We have the talent to do anything we want to but we have mental lapses.”
Arkansas hits the road next week traveling to Auburn Thursday and South Carolina Sunday. The South Carolina contest is scheduled to be televised by ESPN2. The Razorbacks return home hosting the final two games of the regular season welcoming Ole Miss Feb. 18 and Alabama Feb. 21.