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WNIT tips off Monday at 7 p.m.

BY ANDRES FOCIL
WNIT tips off Monday at 7 p.m.

TICKETS ON SALE: Reserved adult seats for Arkansas’ second round WNIT game with the winner of Texas-Arlington and Oklahoma State are $10. General admission adult tickets are $8 for this post-season tournament game. Youth general admission is $5. UA students with ID can purchase general admission seats for $4. Tickets are on sale during regular business hours at the Razorback Ticket Center, located on South Razorback Road next to Arkansas’ baseball stadium, Baum Field. Tickets can also be purchased at the ticket windows at Bud Walton Arena on game day starting one and a half hours before tipoff. Fans can also purchase tickets on-line at ArkansasRazorbacks.com until 12 hours prior to tipoff. For further information or to order tickets, contact the Razorback Ticket Center at 800-982-HOGS (4647) or locally at 479-575-5151.ABOUT THE RAZORBACKS: Arkansas enters the postseason for the 18th time in the 33-year history of the program with the 2009 Women’s NIT. This is Arkansas’ second season with Tom Collen as the head coach. The Razorbacks sport one of the nation’s top 25 recruiting classes, and the six newcomers is the most for Arkansas’ women’s basketball team in several seasons. The Razorbacks return a pair of senior leaders in Ayana Brereton and Whitney Jones. Newcomers like All-SEC Freshman team guards Ceira Ricketts and Lyndsay Harris have brought a new scoring power for the Razorbacks from the perimeter. The SEC Sixth Woman of the Year, junior guard Charity Ford, gives the Razorbacks depth. Arkansas has its third top SEC freshman in Co-Freshman of the Year and second-team All-SEC player Ricketts.ABOUT THE COWGIRLS: Oklahoma State is 17-15, advancing out of the first round of the WNIT with a 82-72 win at home on Saturday afternoon over Texas-Arlington. Prior to the WNIT opener, the Cowgirls last played in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals, losing to Baylor. Coach Kurt Budke has OSU in its third straight postseason berth. One of the top scorers in the Big 12, Andrea Riley, leads the Cowgirls with 23.0 ppg, and led the Big 12 as a first-team all-conference member. Riley also ranks second in the league in assists at 6.1 and seventh in steals at 2.0. Shaunte Smith is OSU’s near double-double threat at 12.0 ppg and 8.8 rpg, ranking fourth in the Big 12 in boards. The Cowgirls opened the Big 12 Tournament by defeating Texas Tech, before falling to Baylor in the next round.ABOUT THE WNIT: Sponsored by Triple Crown Sports, the Women’s NIT began in 1998. The tournament has traditionally used home sites. Expanding three years ago to a 48-team field, the 31 automatic bid conferences each receive a team in the new field with 17 at-large teams rounding our the bracket. While there are 48 teams, the bracket is built on a 64-team, six-round draw which allows for 32 games in the opening round, with those 16 winners advancing to face the 16 bye teams in the second round.MAVERICKS TRY TO RUN WITH COWGIRLS: Worked in the first four minutes, but once Shaunte Smith and Andrea Riley warmed up, it was a 20-20 sprint won by Oklahoma State. Snapping a seven-game home losing streak at Gallagher-Iba Arena, Smith’s 24 point-13 rebound double in 39 minutes removed any doubt about the outcome. Coach Kurt Budke let Smith’s hot hand — 10-of-19 from the field — roll as he worked way down his bench. The rest of the starters all saw less than 30 minutes with season-leading scorer Riley coasting on 20 points in 28 minutes.LONG TIME OFF: Arkansas last faced outside competition on March 5 at the SEC Tournament in North Little Rock. The last time the Razorbacks were in Walton Arena was a whole month ago, Feb. 22 with Alabama.NOT THE LONGEST: Arkansas had a 20-day gap between its final game in 1996 (ironically, a first round SEC loss to Ole Miss, 76-73) on March 1 and the first game of the NWIT in Amarillo on March 21. Arkansas won that game, 83-51.SCARY SIMILAR: Both Arkansas and OSU shoot almost the same percentage — .406 and .408 respectively — have close three point numbers — 191-620 for .308 vs. 198-624 for .317. They are both averaging 12.6 assists.DIFFERENCES: Arkansas is +1.2 on the boards while OSU is -1.1, but the Cowgirls are +3.3 in turnover margin to only +0.8 for the Razorbacks.BIG 12 ONLY COMMON POINTS: Arkansas lost to Kansas State, Missouri and Texas Tech this season, looking to break that streak with Oklahoma State. The Cowgirls went 2-1 with Tech, beat Missouri and lost to KSU for a combined 3-2.TEAMMATES COLLIDE: Seniors Ayana Brereton and Shyvon Spears were high school teammates at Angleton High. Brereton signed with Arkansas out of Angleton, while Spears went to Coffeyville Community College before arriving at Oklahoma State.SEC — ALL IN: Every eligible team in the SEC is in the post season — another seven-team entry into the NCAA Tournament plus three into the WNIT. With 10 of its 12 members in the post season, every SEC team over .500 for the season advanced to the postseason.ARKANSAS AND THE WNIT: This is the third appearance in the postseason WNIT. Arkansas’ record in the postseason event is 9-2, winning the 1999 WNIT title with five straight wins in the then 32-team field and reaching the WNIT semifinals in 2000. Arkansas returns to the post season for the first time since the 2005 Women’s NIT. The Razorbacks won their opening round game with UNLV before losing to Arkansas State on the road in 2005.OTHER INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENTS: Arkansas reached the finals of the 16-team preseason WNIT in 1997, losing to Colorado, 73-71, in the title game. The Razorbacks also have two appearances in the now defunct National Women’s Invitational Tournament. The eight-team tournament held in Amarillo, Texas, predates the current WNIT. Arkansas won the NWIT title in 1988 with a record-setting offensive effort in the three-game tournament. The Razorbacks were fourth pace at the 1996, and final, NWIT.POSTSEASON: This is the 18th postseason appearance in the 33-year history of the program, and the first since 2004-05.THE REASON YOU PLAY: Postgame experience is high on the list, and none of the current team members have ever played in the postseason. Seniors Ayana Brereton and Whitney Jones were signees the last time Arkansas was in the postseason.10TH ANNIVERSARY: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the epic 1999 WNIT run by the Razorbacks, culminating in a then WNIT record crowd of 14,143 that saw Arkansas defeat Wisconsin for the title.FURTHER IRONY: Date of the Wisconsin game? March 23, 1999.FORD, RICKETTS, HARRIS EARN SEC HONORS: Junior Charity Ford was voted the Sixth Woman of the Year, Ceira Ricketts the Co-Freshman of the Year and second-team All-Southeastern Conference and Ricketts and Lyndsay Harris are SEC All-Freshman as voted by the league coaches. CHARITY FORD, SIXTH WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Junior Charity Ford came off the bench the entire season for Arkansas after serving as a starter her first two years for the Razorbacks. Ford’s contribution off the bench was obvious in SEC play. Injured just after Christmas and unable to play the first games of league play, once Ford became effective the Razorbacks went on a 5-1 run to close the season. Averaging almost double-digits against SEC foes at 9.7 ppg, Ford was named the SEC Player of the Week for her role coming off the bench to guide Arkansas to its first win over a AP ranked team in five years at then 15th-ranked Florida. Ford had 19 points that night, and the week before had a career-high 21 at Georgia to lead Arkansas first-ever win against the Lady Bulldogs in Athens.CEIRA RICKETTS, CO-FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Leading the SEC in steals almost the entire season and earning a record-tying five SEC Freshman of the Week awards, Arkansas’ leading scorer at 12.7 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Ricketts became the first women’s basketball player at the University of Arkansas to have a triple double with her 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists against Auburn. During the course of the season, Ricketts tied the UA record for most assists in a SEC game and the freshman record for assists with her 12 against Auburn. Ricketts added three more double-double games with points and rebounds against 12 points and 10 rebounds at Georgia and 11 points and 12 rebounds at then 15th-ranked Florida. Ricketts’ career high of 22 points came against Tennessee and Missouri. She led the SEC in steals, and was the top freshman in several categories, including scoring, for almost the entire year. Ricketts ranked top 10 in the nation for freshmen scoring.LYNDSAY HARRIS, ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM: Arkansas’ top three-point shooter and third leading scorer, Harris registered one of the team’s highest scoring games this season with 23 points against Oregon State. Hitting 52 three-pointers during the regular season, Harris turned in one of her best weeks two weeks ago as the Razorbacks swept Florida and Alabama. Early in the season, Harris was named to the Junkanoo Jam all-tournament team after her 23 points versus Oregon State.CEIRA RICKETTS, ALL-SEC SECOND TEAM: Also earning all-conference honors, Ricketts joins only Christy Smith at the University of Arkansas to earn all-conference selection as a freshman. Ricketts was voted by the league coaches onto the second team, equalling Smith’s pick as the Freshman of the Year and second-team All-SEC.ARKANSAS’ FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR HISTORY: Ceira Ricketts joins Christy Smith (1995) and Karyn Karlin (1997) as the SEC’s top freshman.ALL-FRESHMAN HISTORY: Lyndsay Harris and Ceira Ricketts become the second pair of teammates at Arkansas to earn all-freshman honors from the SEC. In 1996, Shaka Massey and Sytia Messer were both Freshman All-SEC. They are the first Razorback freshman on the team since Kristen Peoples in 2004. With Harris and Ricketts, a total of 10 players have earned Freshman All-SEC (Peoples, 2004; Ruby Vaden, 2003; Shameka Christon, 2001; Karlin, 1997; Massey & Messer, 1996; Smith, 1995; Kimberly Wilson, 1994).ALL-CONFERENCE HISTORY: Ricketts is Arkansas’ first All-SEC pick since Lauren Ervin was second-team All-SEC in 2007. All-time, Arkansas has had 14 All-SEC honors, three first-team and 11 second-team. The last first-teamer was Shameka Christon.FORD A FIRST: The Razorbacks receive their first-ever Sixth Player of the Year.THERE’S A COMMON THREAD HERE: All three of Arkansas’ Freshman of the Year honorees — all recruited to Arkansas by Tom Collen. As the recruiting coordinator for Gary Blair, Collen was instrumental in the signing of Christy Smith and Karyn Karlin. With Ceira Ricketts and Lyndsay Harris on the all-freshman team, Collen had a hand in the signing of over half of the players that have been on the SEC rookie team (6 — Smith, Shaka Massey, Sytia Messer, Karlin, Ricketts and Harris).A RECORD STREAK: Tom Collen did something no other Razorback women’s basketball coach has ever done – win five straight SEC regular season games — when Arkansas downed Alabama. The Razorbacks have tied the longest win streak for SEC regular season games with four this season. The 1995, 2000 and 2001 teams went for four. The 1995 team on the last four games of the regular season, then won the opening game of the 1995 SEC Tournament to claim five overall wins.WHEN THE DEAD ZONE MEETS THE CLUTCH: In the past three games, it is all about the clutch. Florida didn’t get a Dead Zone break, but cut Arkansas’ lead to one late in the game. The Gators fouled, but Arkansas made just enough in the final four minutes to take a double-digit win. Ole Miss and Arkansas stumbled through the Dead Zone with neither team gaining ground, but the Lady Rebels finally pulling back to within five after trailing at half. But when Arkansas hit the four-minute mark, it was all Razorback starting with Charity Ford’s clutch three. The Razorbacks went on an 11-2 close to the game with Ole Miss. In the previous game, Arkansas overcame its first Dead Zone slump with South Carolina. The Gamecocks used a 7-2 push to gain a five-point margin and held the lead during the entire dreaded space between the second and third media time outs. It was Arkansas down the stretch as the Razorbacks went 10-6 in the last four minutes to defeat Carolina.PRETTY MUCH THE SAME OFFENSIVE TEAM: This is no small achievement for a team the past four years that roared through non-conference then saw precipitous drops in offensive production in league games. For the year, Arkansas shoots 40.4% and in SEC games only, 40.2%. Arkansas is scoring 67.3 ppg full season and 64.9 ppg SEC season. Rebounding is also very close, 38.7 full season and 38.3 SEC games.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)