DULUTH, Ga. — Senior Charity Ford willed in 21 points and freshman Dominique Robinson added 16 forcing overtime in a first round game against nationally-recognized Vanderbilt in the 2010 Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament in Duluth, Ga., Thursday.
Ford and Robinson’s points weren’t enough for the win however, as the Razorbacks (12-18) ended their season with a 64-65 loss to Vanderbilt (21-9).
“It was a tough, tough loss,” Razorback head coach Tom Collen said. “We battled hard. We got behind a couple of times and had to fight our way back. It’s all about making plays and another minute or two on the clock and we might have been on the other side.”
Ford and fellow senior Ashley McCray ended their Razorback careers with the loss. Sophomore Ashley Daniels grabbed 10 boards while sophomore C’eira Ricketts added eight.
“I just tried to play hard,” Ford said. “I wanted to make plays for the team.”
A great first half effort by the Razorbacks was marred by a pair of scoring droughts of first four then two minutes that allowed Vanderbilt to build a lead. Arkansas struggled on the offensive glass and finished the half with a 16-21 disadvantage on the boards allowing the Commodores to go into the locker room with a 31-22 lead. Vanderbilt put together a 12-2 run to close the half.
Arkansas shot nearly 31 percent in the half and saw Robinson hit her first three in SEC competition. Robinson finished the first frame with a pair of threes and eight points.
Ford also had eight at the break to lead the Razorbacks.
Both teams changed up the starters to open the second half and it was Arkansas who would benefit most. The Razorbacks went on a 7-0 run to the first time out and scored two more for a 9-0 run closing the gap to 31-33 as Vanderbilt got sloppy with the basketball.
Sophomore Lyndsay Harris was a difference-maker in the second frame. Harris sat much of the first session with a pair of early fouls but her leadership and energy was a spark for Arkansas.
Harris finished with seven points in 22 minutes.
The Razorbacks cut the Vanderbilt lead to three, 37-40 around the 12-minute mark when freshman Sarah Watkins drained a pair of free throws after a Commodore foul.
The momentum shifted as the Razorbacks gained confidence as the game wore on. Vanderbilt switched up defenses moving out of the two-three zone into man-to-man and Arkansas took advantage of the change cutting into the lead.
Arkansas tied the game at 51-all with 4:22 to play in regulation. Harris was back on the bench with four fouls as the teams traded baskets down the stretch.
Harris subbed back in at the 2:26 mark and the teams traded baskets with Vanderbilt holding a two-point lead, 57-55, with 36 seconds remaining after Ricketts hit a running jumper.
Arkansas got the ball back after a time out and Harris ran the length of the court for an uncontested layup tying the game.
The tie sent Arkansas into the team’s third overtime game of the year.
The five-minute overtime period began with a three from Robinson but the sea-saw battle continued with a tie at 62-all with 2:49 to go.
Vanderbilt scored on a traditional three-point play but fouled Ford who hit both bonus shots for the one-point deficit, 64-65, with just over a minute remaining in the overtime.
Arkansas had a last second shot to win but Vanderbilt stepped up with a blocked shot escaping with the victory.
The loss ends Arkansas’ 2009-10 season.
“I think this game shows just how good the SEC is top to bottom,” Collen said. “We proved that there isn’t much difference between the fifth seed and the 12th seed tonight. I’m proud of the effort and I’m proud to be in the SEC. I believe this is the best league one through 12. It’s just a great conference to play in.”