MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team earned a hard-fought win on the road at Middle Tennessee State Thursday night inside the Murphy Center, 58-51. Behind a game-high 19 points from senior Jhasmin Bowen, the Razorbacks improved to 3-0 on the season. Arkansas never trailed in the game.
The Murphy Center is no easy place to play as Arkansas handed the Blue Raiders their fifth home loss since 2006. Two of those have come at the hands of the Razorbacks.
Bowen, scoring a season-high 19 points, pulled down seven rebounds. Sophomore Jessica Jackson grabbed seven rebounds of her own and contributed 14 points. Sophomore Kelsey Brooks reached double-digit scoring for the third time this season and played an all-around game, scoring 10 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out five assists. Senior Calli Berna scored seven and had four assists.
Junior Melissa Wolff scored two points and hauled in eight rebounds. She was also the primary defender all night long on MTSU’s leading scorer, Olivia Jones. Wolff held Jones to 13 points, five below her season average, on just 3 of 14 shooting.
The Razorbacks started the game firing on all cylinders, going on a 9-0 run while holding Middle Tennessee State to without a field goal for the opening 5:04. Jackson and Bowen led the Razorback offense in the first half, scoring 11 and 15 points respectively. In fact, Jackson scored eight of the team’s first 12 points and 11 of the first 15. At the 12:05 mark in the first half, Bowen went on a run of her own, scoring 10 of the Razorbacks next 11 points.
At one point in the first half, Arkansas held an 18-point edge.
The Arkansas defense made it tough sledding the entire first half, as the Hogs held the Blue Raiders to without a field goal from the 8:30 mark to 1:45, a span of 6:45. Arkansas held MTSU to just 25.9 percent shooting from the field. MTSU made just seven first half field goals while the Razorbacks recorded five steals.
MTSU started to chip away at Arkansas’ lead in the second half, cutting it to as low as three with 9:17 left. Arkansas answered right back on consecutive possessions with a bucket by Khadijah West and driving, scooping left-handed layup by Berna.
Every time MTSU attempted to cut further into the lead, Arkansas had an answer. Brooks and Jackson made crucial baskets down the stretch when the lead was trimmed to five at different junctures.
The Razorback defense ultimately won the game as Arkansas clamped down in the final four minutes. For the game, MTSU was held to just 28 percent shooting on 16 made field goals and 25 percent from three. In comparison, Arkansas shot 40 percent from the field.
The Razorbacks return home Sunday, Nov. 23, to face Northwestern State. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. on SECN+.
“I challenged my team before the ball game to keep drawing the line. I told them about a Navy SEAL before the ball game that really had every reason to die and give up and he never would, he kept drawing a line and crawling to it and that was our motto all night long, keep drawing the line, keep drawing the line. We knew it was going to be a fight. Terrific crowd in here. Coach Insell is a legend in this parts, he’s an unbelievable coach, been at for almost 40 years. To come in here and be the fifth team to win in 10 years, that’s a major statement. What do we do now, we celebrate and we go right back to work tomorrow. I cannot be more proud than I am of those nine young ladies in the locker room. They were excited, they should be excited. They fought their tails off, we fought through adversity. We missed free throws, the crowd got into it, we had turnovers, but we never, never, never quit fighting, and that’s what a Razorback is supposed to do.” – head coach Jimmy Dykes
POST GAME NOTES
– The Razorbacks improved to 5-0 all-time in the series against Middle Tennessee State and are 2-0 in games played in Murfreesboro
– Arkansas handed Middle Tennessee State just their fifth loss at home since 2006. The Blue Raiders are now 115-5 at home during that time. The Razorbacks have accounted for two of those losses for MTSU.
– Arkansas has won each of its last 10 games on the road against non-conference, unranked opponents.
– Arkansas picked up its first road victory of the season. Thirteen more games will be played away from Bud Walton Arena this year, including 10 on the road, two on a neutral court in Las Vegas, and one in North Little Rock.
– Arkansas improved to 8-5 in road openers.
– Arkansas held MT to without a field goal for the game’s first 5:04, marking the second straight game Arkansas has held their opponent without a field goal for the first five minutes of the game (held Savannah State without a field goal for game’s opening 5:49)
– Arkansas held MT to without a field goal for a 6:45 stretch from the 8:30 to the 1:45 mark in the first half.
– At the conclusion of the first half, MTSU had just seven made field goals while Arkansas recorded five steals.
– Arkansas held MT to 20 first-half points, the lowest first half point total Arkansas has held an opponent this season.
– Senior Jhasmin Bowen scored a season-high 19 points. She was just one point shy of tying her career high of 20
– Sophomore Kelsey Brooks has scored in double figures in each of the three games this season.