PORT LUCAYA, Grand Bahama — A trio of Razorbacks scored 12 each as the University of Arkansas defeated the University of the Pacific, 78-61, in the Junkanoo Jam.
Seniors Ayana Brereton and Whitney Jones along with freshman Ceira Ricketts scored a dozen as Arkansas, 5-1, took the consolation title of the Freeport Division of the tournament. Pacific dropped to 1-3.
Arkansas’ pressure defense was too much for the Tigers as the Razorbacks forced a season-high 26 opponent turnovers and collected 18 steals.
“Our defense was good early and we got a lot of momentum from our press,” UA head coach Tom Collen said. “We shot the ball better tonight and it’s good to see us battle back after the way we played on the first night.”
Outside of senior leader Amber Simmons’ game-high 28 points, the rest of the Tigers combined for only 33.
Leading by 12 at halftime, Arkansas turned up the three-point shooting in the second half to close with the best game to date, hitting 10-of-23. The Razorbacks were virtually as good from behind the arc – 43.5% — as they were from the field overall – 44.8%.
“We’re a good three-point shooting team, but we’ve been sporadic,” Collen said. “We just need to slow down like we did tonight. We relaxed tonight, and hit 10 with a good percentage.”
After struggling offensively against Oregon State in the tournament opener, Arkansas led by as many as 27 midway through the second half.
Razorbacks’ offense opened with better shooting against the Tigers, building a 17-6 lead off balanced scoring from Brereton and Harris.
With shots falling, Arkansas was able to jump on the Tigers with its full-court pressure and force eight early turnovers. Pacific contributed to the defensive effort by hitting only two of its first 11 shots.
Arkansas’ first-half lead peaked at 15, 27-12, when freshman Ricketts collided with Whitney Price. High in the air for a breakaway layup, Price upended Ricketts into the goal standard, sending the freshman off the court with a sprained shoulder.
She returned to start the second half, and showed no ill effects, including hitting her first three-pointer of her Arkansas career.
Simmons carried Pacific by scoring 12 of the Tigers’ 20 first-half points, but Arkansas took a 12-point margin to the locker room, 32-20.
A physical game, the two teams combined for 25 first-half fouls.
“The early fouls disrupted us a little bit,” Collen said.
Along with the 12-point trio, Harris added 10 points. Shanita Arnold with eight points had the starting lineup within a bucket of all double-digits.
The Razorbacks return to the states on Sunday, but stay on the road with a game on Dec. 3 at Memphis. The contest will take place at FedEx Forum in downtown Memphis, not at the Tigers’ on-campus arena.
After the Memphis game, Arkansas heads north to Manhattan, Kan., for a Dec. 5-6 at Kansas State.