The Razorback women’s basketball team (9-2) watched Grambling State’s first shot result in an air ball, and it was a reflection of what took place in Arkansas’ 79-62 victory over the Tigers on Dec. 28.
“I thought our kids did a nice job of answering, keeping our composure and finishing up the non-conference season in a good spot,” Razorback coach Mike Neighbors said.
Arkansas doubled up the Tigers on the boards, 12-6, in the first quarter and shot 44 percent from three. The score after one was 15-11 in the Razorbacks’ favor. Senior guard Keiryn Swenson made two three pointers and led the Hogs with six points. Tiger forward Jazmine Torian led the team with six points of two three pointers of her own.
The Razorbacks opened the scoring in the second quarter with a three from senior guard Devin Cosper, which ignited a 14-2 drive highlighted by five points from Cosper and four points from sophomore forward Kiara Williams.
The Razorbacks outscored Grambling State, 25-12, in the second quarter to take a 40-23 halftime lead. The Razorbacks shot 4-for-7 from three and 8-for-16 at the half. The leading scorer was Cosper with 11 and four other Hogs scored six points each. They outrebounded the Tigers 31-18 at halftime, led by Williams’ 13.
One negative for the Razorbacks was their 46 percent free-throw mark.
Torian and guard Deja McKinney paced the Tigers at half with six points each. Senior guard Monisha Neal led the team with four rebounds at the half.
The third quarter scoring started with three made free throws by Williams to improve their average. Buckets by Cosper, junior guard Malica Monk and sophomore guard Jailyn Mason stretched the score to 51-30 heading into a timeout at the halfway point of the third quarter.
The quarter ended with a blistering offensive pace for both teams as Grambling State made four of its last six and the Razorbacks making their last four shots. In the last 2 1/2 minutes, junior guard Raven Northcross-Baker made two threes and Cosper glided into the lane for a lay-up. The Razorbacks led 65-43 heading into the final quarter.
At the media timeout at the 4:44 mark in the final quarter, Grambling State had outscored the Hogs, 15-8, in the fourth. Tiger guard Ariel Williams came alive, scoring nine of them. The Hogs’ weakness in the first half became a strength for the Razorbacks, as they scored four of their eight from the free-throw stripe in that time..
The Tigers continued to fight to the end to no avail after the time out. They outscored the Razorbacks, 9-5, to make the final margin 79-62 Razorbacks.
The Razorbacks’ leading scorer was Cosper with 16, and three other players scored in double figures. Monk had a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. Williams added 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. The Razorbacks were 11-for-24 on threes after making only four during their loss to Arizona State on Dec. 21. Arkansas rebounded from their 1-7 start from the free throw line to finish 18-27.
The team knew Williams could be counted on to get the teams misses, Monk said.
“We can count on her to get those balls because she’s a ball magnet,” Monk said.
The focus is to get rebounds when she sees a shot bounce off the rim, Williams said.
“That’s just always been my mentality, see ball and go get it, ask questions later...just make sure you get the ball,” Williams said.
The Tigers were led by Williams’ 16 points. She was the only player for Grambling State in double figures. The Tigers were 7-for-27 from three and only 5-of-9 from the free-throw line.
The Razorbacks begin Southeastern Conference play against the Ole Miss Rebels at 2 p.m. Dec. 31 at Bud Walton Arena.