FAYETTEVILLE – University of Arkansas sophomore Sarah Watkins scored her first career double-double leading the Razorback women’s basketball team to an 80-63 win over Oral Roberts and a perfect 10-0 record Thursday in Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks (10-0) blasted out of the gates with a 4-0 start and a 25-5 run knocked the wind out of ORU’s (5-6) sails early in the game. The Golden Eagles managed a run to start the second half but never recovered from the blistering Razorback start.
Watkins had 16 points at the half and finished with a career-best 22 point and had 10 rebounds and three blocks on a 10-for-13 night that included a pair of three-pointers.
"We were really ready to get back out there," Watkins said. "We were tired of practice and facing each other. We were ready to play. I had a lot of open looks early and they were falling. That gave me the confidence to just keep shooting."
"I felt like every time Sarah touched the ball, it was going in," added junior C’eira Ricketts. "We were really prepared for the game," she added. "Coach told us they (ORU) scored 100 points on UTA, a team we only beat by three. That really motivated us. We knew they could score in bunches and we were prepared."
Watkins was one of three players in double-digits. She was joined by junior Lyndsay Harris with 12 points in 27 minutes of play. Ricketts added 10 points and had eight assists while directing the floor traffic for much of the evening. Senior Skye Rees had a season-best six points and freshman Keira Peak scored nine points and had nine boards in 26 minutes of play.
One of the best first halves in recent women’s basketball history saw the Razorbacks post 50 points behind a 7-for-10 performance and 16 points from Watkins. Arkansas shot 61.3 percent from the floor and led by as many as 22 in the opening half.
Arkansas scored 24 points in the paint and got an all-star effort from Watkins who hit two three-pointers, had four rebounds and two blocks in the first half.
The Razorbacks led 50-32 at the break and had all of the momentum heading into the locker room but ORU was not done playing.
The Golden Eagles rank among the nation’s leaders in scoring and sophomore Kevi Luper is the sixth-ranked scorer in the country this week. She scored her 1,000th-point against Arkansas and that came in just 41 games. Arkansas held Luper to 10 points, well off her 23 ppg average, at the break.
ORU demonstrated their scoring prowess in the second half as they struck first and opened with 5-2 burst and eventually closed the gap to single digits, trailing 60-51, at the 11:44 mark.
Arkansas had tried to slow the pace of the game to start the second frame but returned to the fast-paced run-and-gun style they had played in the opening minutes. The style change allowed the Razorbacks to again stretch the lead to double-digits.
A 9-3 Arkansas run closed the game as ORU was unable to score in the final minutes of the game.
"We got out to a great start," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "It’s been 12 days since we’ve played and we’ve had a lot of time to prepare for Oral Roberts. I’m happy to get out with a win against them. ORU is going to win 20 games this year and this will be a good win for us.
"This team sensed throughout the week the seriousness of our staff and what this game means," Collen continued. "They really had a great effort in practice and in the game. They did a great job focusing on ORU and not looking ahead."
The Razorbacks return to the court hosting No. 11/13 Oklahoma Sunday in a 5 p.m. game in Bud Walton Arena.