The women’s basketball team shot just 20 percent from the field in the third quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs on Thursday. And despite a run by the Razorbacks in the fourth quarter, Georgia would take the game 80-72 for its fourth conference win of the season. It was Arkansas’ first home loss since the beginning of January against Mississippi State.
“I thought Georgia came out (in the third quarter) with way more focus than we did,” Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said. “We didn’t respond as well as we have been.”
A four-game winning streak coming into the game earned Arkansas some votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll for the first time this season and a projected slot in the NCAA Tournament. Thursday night, the Razorbacks (16-6 (5-3)) looked to extend their winning streak to five against the Bulldogs (13-8 (4-4)). But the hopes of breaking into the rankings were diminished after the Razorbacks suffered their third conference loss of the season.
The Bulldogs had lost three straight entering Thursday’s matchup but showed no signs of that in the opening minutes. Georgia raced to a 7-0 lead and kept that pressure on Arkansas all game long.
“I thought we limited (Arkansas’) opportunities to run,” Georgia coach Joni Taylor said. “If you let them get out and run, they’re tough to guard. I really thought that we were able to get them into a half-court game, which worked in our favor. And then we were to able to get the ball inside some, and those players made some shots for us tonight.”
Both offenses played a solid first half, and Arkansas held the lead in the locker room, 43-38.
But the pace of the game took a turn in the third quarter as each team, particularly Arkansas, struggled to take the lid off the basket. The Razorbacks shot an abysmal 3-15 from the field in the period and scored just 12 points total. Georgia scored shot 10-17 from the field and scored 24. The 12-point swing gave Georgia a 66-52 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Despite the Razorbacks’ ability to win games late this season, such as the Tulsa and UT Arlington games, the deficit was too much to overcome in this one. Arkansas got the game back to within four multiple times in the final minutes but could not string a few scoring possessions together, ultimately falling by eight points.
Senior Malica Monk and sophomore Chelsea Dungee were the bright spots in an otherwise flat offensive performance by the Hogs overall, scoring 19 and 28 points, respectively.
Georgia stuck with the pace of the Razorbacks all night long, forcing an uncharacteristic 13 turnovers for Arkansas and out-rebounded them 44-28.
“We went back and forth with a great team, but there are takeaways from (the loss),” Dungee said. “We can get more rebounds and have less turnovers. Those were the difference in the game.”
On the offensive side of the ball for Georgia, sophomore guard Gabby Connally tallied a team-high 21 points and junior guard Taja Cole earned 12 points and nine rebounds.
Despite losing some momentum in the loss, Arkansas will have an opportunity to bounce back Sunday against a tough South Carolina team, who currently sits at No. 16 in the rankings.
“Just because we played well the last few weeks doesn’t get us any bonus points,” Neighbors said. “There may be some changes.”
South Carolina has emerged as one of the best teams in the SEC, especially after defeating No. 19 Kentucky on the road Thursday night.
Sunday’s game is scheduled to tip-off at 4 p.m. and will air on the SEC Network.