The Arkansas women’s basketball team finished its non-conference season 9-1 with an 86-52 win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks started the game off strong, managing a 24-12 lead by the end of the first quarter. Senior guard Destiny Slocum and sophomore forward Marquesha Davis led the team in scoring for the first half with 13 points each.
The team built its lead to 45-21 by halftime and continued to score well in the second half. Sophomore forward Erynn Barnum contributed 13 points during the third and fourth quarters and achieved her second career double-double.
Head coach Mike Neighbors said the team grew and improved during its non-conference season, but that he does not think the team is close to where it needs to be to play in the Southeastern Conference.
“I like where we’re at,” Neighbors said. “But I still know that there’s a compounding effect that’s getting ready to hit us that no matter what you do in non-conference, you can’t prepare for it.”
Senior forward Taylah Thomas agreed with Neighbors and said she thinks the team has some more work to do before it plays in the SEC.
“I think we’re comfortable, but not too comfortable,” Thomas said. “We’ve had games that have helped prepare us for the SEC games that we have coming, and I think even the games that maybe if we blew them out, we still worked on things we needed to work on.”
Several players have sustained injuries this season, including senior guard Chelsea Dungee, who sat out against the Golden Lions after a collision during Saturday’s game against Little Rock. Dungee scored in the double digits for 13 straight games before being benched. She said she could play against Pine Bluff if she needed to, but Neighbors decided to bench her.
“She doesn’t ever want to miss an opportunity to compete,” Neighbors said. “But I think the big picture of it was that it could have cost more games down the line if we wouldn’t have been on the cautious side of it.”
Thomas also suffered from a leg injury this season and was slow in getting back into playing at the same pace as she used to.
“I got the ball more today than some of those other games,” Thomas said. “I’ll honestly say since coming back from my injury, not being as fast as I usually am, it was hard for me to get into the offense.”
Neighbors called in the players on the bench more this season because of injuries and Thomas said whoever comes off the bench always brings the energy the team needs.
“I feel like everybody who comes off the bench brings something in that we need and they come in and do their job,” Thomas said.
The Razorbacks are scheduled to play their first SEC game against No. 13 Kentucky on Thursday, Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.