The Arkansas women’s basketball team battled a tough four-game losing streak that included two overtime losses and two losses to ranked teams, but a buzzer-beating layup by Malica Monk gave the Hogs a victory over Vanderbilt Monday.
Monk, who is a freshman, secured an improbable rebound after her teammate Jordan Danberry missed a free-throw line jump shot with around four seconds remaining, and an attempt at a tip in caused the ball to fall to the court with a little over a second left on the clock. Monk grabbed the ball under the backboard and put it back up just in time to beat the buzzer.
After hitting the shot, Monk ran to half court pumping her fists and celebrating while the rest of the Razorbacks ran to join her. Arkansas head coach Jimmy Dykes did not let the emotions of the game winner affect him in the heat of the moment, as the second-year coach ran out to try to corral the players back to the bench to avoid any technical fouls or injuries.
Monk’s final two points of the four she scored in the game were obviously the most important, but several other Razorbacks made big contributions to the victory. Junior forward Jessica Jackson improved on what has been an impressive season by pouring in 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting before fouling out with 55.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Danberry and Devin Cosper each scored 10 points on a combined mark of 9-18 from the floor.
The victory came as a big relief for the Hogs, who had previously been going through their second-worst stretch of the season. During the four-game losing streak which spanned from Jan. 24 to Feb. 4, the Lady Razorbacks lost to Auburn, Florida, then-No. 13 Mississippi State and then-No. 23 Tennessee. Their worst loss of the stretch came in a 75-57 loss to the Volunteers on Feb. 4.
During the game, Arkansas’ largest lead of the day was a two-point advantage with 8:49 remaining in the first quarter. The victory by Tennessee was brought on by some hot shooting. Four Volunteers scored in double digits, while only two Razorbacks were able to do so. Jackson scored 18 while Cosper added 17. The Hogs did have a good showing from the three-point line, going an impressive 5-for-11 from behind the arc, but they unfortunately could not get the stops they needed to get a second victory over the Volunteers on the season.
The Razorbacks’ game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Jan. 31 was much closer, as the final score was a 65-55 loss. Earlier in the season, Arkansas was blown out 80-55 by the same Bulldogs squad, so the clear improvement from that game forward was evident in the teams’ second matchup. In the game, which had an estimated attendance of 4,011 people, three Razorbacks fouled out in the fourth quarter. Jackson and Danberry were two of those players, and both were the only two Razorbacks to score in double figures. The Hogs were able to get some key stops, but their poor 19-for-63 shooting mark was the nail in the coffin as the team was unable to secure the upset in Bud Walton Arena.
The losses to Auburn and Florida, which came just four days apart, had similar scores. The Hogs lost to Auburn on Jan. 24 by a score of 71-60 in overtime, while they fell to Florida by a score of 71-66 in overtime four days later. In both games, the Razorbacks found a lot of offense but were unable to find much defensive help. The team clearly found its offensive groove after putting up only 48 points in a victory over Louisiana State on Jan. 21.
Now that the Lady Razorbacks have some confidence under their belts after earning an emotional victory over the Volunteers in their most recent game, fans could be in for an exciting game when the Hogs take on Missouri on the road Sunday.