FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team had a season-high 20 steals on Wednesday night as a punishing full-court press drove the Razorbacks to a 63-46 win over High Point Panthers in collegiate women’s basketball.
Senior Whitney Jones led the way with 15 points and fellow senior Ayana Brereton had a career-high tying 11 rebounds to pace the Razorbacks (2-0).
On a night where Arkansas’ offense struggled at times, the defense powered the Razorbacks, forcing 25 turnovers and picking up 29 points off HPU miscues.
“We would like it to be equal between the offense and the defense,” Jones said. “But right now, we’re counting on our defense.”
Freshman Ceira Ricketts came off the bench to score 10 points and led the team with five steals.
“Once our players on top of the press get going, it makes the whole press work,” Ricketts said.
“Arkansas just keeps coming after you,” High Point head coach Tooey Loy said. “Their pressure was the defense in the game.”
Blocking also proved strong for the Razorbacks, who pounded High Point down under with nine. Brereton and Jones pacing the team with three blocks each, and Ricketts had a block on each end of the court within 10 seconds.
The Razorbacks never trailed during the contest, instead holding High Point to 26.2 percent.
Arkansas struggled from the field the whole night, dropping in only 33.8 percent of its shots and started the second half by putting up only 10 points in the first 9:49 after getting back on the court.
“We’ve got to become a better offensive team,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “We’re depending on our press to create our energy. I don’t want to depend on it.”
Arkansas’ defensive effort in the first half was aided by a 15-1 run, as the Razorbacks sprinted to a 22-10 lead with 7:31 left in the half. The run included a stretch of 4:41 in which the Razorbacks stymied the Panthers offense, not allowing a field goal.
Shooting only 30.6 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, the Razorbacks relied on their defense, forcing 14 turnovers, six consecutive, and holding the visitors to 22.2 percent shooting. Arkansas’ offense was aided by its resilient defense, scoring 18 of its first half points off of steals.
On offense, Jones led the Razorbacks with seven points at the half and added five rebounds and a steal on defense. The bench also proved an asset on offense, pouring in 15 points during the first 20 minutes of play.
The offense hit a snag after Richardson’s three-pointer with 5:44 left before the half, going without another goal until Harris came through with her own three with 1:45 left to play, putting the home team up 30-17.
After a quick layup and free throw by Ford, the Razorbacks took a 33-17 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Razorbacks will be back in action Friday Nov. 21 at Bud Walton Arena when they host Southern Methodist. Tip off for the game is set for 7 p.m. For complete coverage of Arkansas women’s basketball, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.