TULSA, Okla - In a game that featured 13 lead changes, Malica Monk’s go-ahead bucket with eight seconds left ended up being the one that mattered most.
On Arkansas’ last possession of the game, Monk drove left and acrobatically finished at the rim through contact. The Razorback fanbase that made the trip to Tulsa erupted as Monk’s basket gave Arkansas a two-point lead with eight seconds left. The 61-59 score was made final moments later.
Following the résumé-building win over Big 10-opponent Nebraska, the Razorbacks’ win over Tulsa gave them a five-game winning streak heading into Christmas break.
Thursday’s matchup ended up being a low-scoring affair that saw both teams struggle to get anything going offensively. The Razorbacks had scored at least 70 points in four of their last five games, but offensive weapons Chelsea Dungee and Alexis Tolefree both started the game ice cold, scoring five and zero points in the first half, respectively.
“We were very, very uncharacteristic to start,” Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said.
At halftime, Arkansas had more turnovers than field goals made, yet trailed by only one heading into the locker room. Tulsa kept the pressure on during the third quarter, extending its lead to four going into the fourth quarter.
The Razorbacks came out in the fourth quarter with a different energy, quickly erasing the deficit and racing to extend the lead. Monk tallied five of her 12 points in the quarter, and Dungee scored 11 of her 23 points in the final frame as well.
“I said at halftime, ‘If I want you to stop shooting, I’ll take you out of the game, stop turning down shots,’” Neighbors said. “I don’t ever want (Dungee, Tolefree, Monk) thinking anything other than ‘if I’m open, shoot it.’”
Tulsa did not go away, however. Senior forward Crystal Polk, who dominated the paint all night long, notched eight of her 20 points in the fourth quarter as the game continued to go back and forth.
With 15 seconds remaining, Tulsa’s sophomore guard Morgan Brady, who finished with 16 points on the night, collided with Monk and had to leave the game with an injury. Tulsa would make one of its two free throw attempts to tie the game.
After Monk gave the Hogs the lead on the other end, Tulsa managed two shots with eight seconds left on the clock, but both came up empty and Arkansas escaped the Reynolds Center with their fifth straight win.
“There was no panic at halftime,” Neighbors said, “there was no panic in the third quarter, and I’m a little bit mad at myself because we’ve been talking about this compounding effect. (Our players) kind of wait until the fourth quarter now (to get going). But I’d rather have finishers than starters.”
Arkansas will have a 10-day break before returning to Bud Walton Arena on Dec. 30 against Jackson State. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.