GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Guards Donica Cosby and Brittney Vaughn led the University of Arkansas to a 67-57 comeback victory over the Florida Gators in Southeastern Conference women’s college basketball.
For only the second time in school history, Arkansas, now 18-3 on the season and 3-2 in the SEC, defeated the Gators at the O’Connell Center.
“We just found a way again,” UA head coach Susie Gardner said. “Once we tied the game, then got the lead, I knew that we would get the big plays to win the game.”
Vaughn had her second straight scoring game with 14 points and a season-high seven rebounds. Cosby came off the bench to score 15 to lead Arkansas.
Arkansas trailed by double digits in the first half, and struggled to regain the lead until the final minutes of the game. After leading 2-0 in the first 30 seconds, Arkansas did not lead again until a layup by Vaughn with 5:28 left in the game.
After Vaughn’s drive, Donica Cosby sealed the deal with five straight points from her own drive to the rack then a deep three-pointer.
“Donica has been a big play player for us all year,” Gardner said. “Brittney has been a rock for us on the floor. I’ve said it many times that this team goes as Brittney goes.”
For the guard play, Arkansas’ power in the lane was a vital key as junior Lauren Ervin recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 10 points and 20 rebounds.
Ervin set a school record for rebounds in a SEC game with 20, the second highest rebound total in school history.
“I knew she was getting a lot of rebounds, but I had no idea it was close to 20,” Gardner said.
Arkansas carried its late first half momentum into the early second half, trimming the Florida lead to three, 34-31, with 17:25 left in the game. The lead bounced from three and eight points for the next several minutes until Arkansas began a slow-motion 13-5 rally over a six-minute period to tie the game, 46-46, with seven to play.
Pressing its lead to as many as eight in the final two minutes, the Lady’Backs commanded the closing minutes in stark contrast to the start of the ball game.
A defensive game for the opening minutes, the two teams combined for more blocked shots – 4 – than field goals made – 3 – in the first five minutes.
Neither team was able to establish offensive rhythm, but the Gators got an individual effort from Brooks. The 5-7 sophomore scored 11 in a row before sitting down for a rest with the Gators leading 20-8.
The Gators settled into 2-3 zone with the lead and dared Arkansas to shoot their way back into the game. The tightly packed lane limited Ervin as the junior had a single field goal in the first half, but did pull down nine rebounds. As a result, Florida built its first-half lead to 15, 25-10, with 5:50 left in the half.
The Lady’Backs struggled from the outside, missing the first nine three-point attempts before Washington hit a trey started a 12-3 run that got Arkansas within six, 28-22, at halftime.
Arkansas shot only 28% in the first half, and was hampered by an uncharacteristic 28% from the free throw stripe in the opening 20 minutes.
Brooks dominated the first half with 15 points off 6-of-14 from the field. The rest of Florida combined for 5-of-17 as the Gators cleared out for the sophomore guard over and over.
Brooks finished the game with 28 points for Florida to lead all scorers.
In the second, Arkansas turned its offense around with 42.9% from the field and 63.2% at the line. Equally important after 10 first half turnovers, Arkansas had only six in the second.
Washington rounded out Arkansas’ guard parade with 11 points.
Arkansas remains on the road to face LSU in Baton Rouge on Thursday evening at 7 p.m.