The Razorback women’s basketball team fell to the No. 2 UConn Huskies 95-80 Sunday afternoon in the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
The Hogs won their matchup with the Huskies last season, but a big deficit early in this fall’s contest prevented a repeat for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks found themselves down 17-2 with five minutes left in the first quarter. The lone score was a layup from sophomore guard Sasha Goforth at the 7:18 mark.
“We just couldn’t stop them on that first run,” Arkansas head coach Mike Neighbors said after the game. “They punched us in the mouth early and it was kind of hard to recover.”
With the game quickly getting out of hand, Neighbors was forced to call Arkansas’ first timeout early in the game.
“I mentioned before the game that I really wanted to avoid using that first timeout until after the first media timeout,” Neighbors said. “That obviously didn't happen.”
Aside from the 15-point deficit, the Hogs kept up with UConn all game, being outscored by no more than three points in the second, third and fourth quarters.
“The loss to Arkansas was our sole blemish all of last season, other than our loss in the Final Four, and that really fueled us going into today’s game,” UConn senior guard Evina Westbrook told a reporter during the game.
The Huskies’ win was powered by a career-best 34-point outing by Paige Bueckers, the 2021 James R. Wooden Award winner, who did not score until the second quarter. She filled up the stat sheet throughout the entirety of the game, shooting 15-19 with six rebounds, four assists and a pair each of steals and blocks.
“She did exactly what her team needed her to do all game long,'' Neighbors said. “She wasn’t needed in that first quarter, but she did exactly what her team needed her to do the remainder of the game.”
Three Arkansas players scored at least 16 points during the game. Senior guard Amber Ramirez made a team-high 20 points, sophomore guard Sasha Goforth made 17 and junior forward Erynn Barnum scored 16 points.
“I was proud of the effort the girls showed out there on the court,” Neighbors said. “It was good to get this loss out of the way quickly so the girls will be more motivated moving forward.”
After a hot offensive start to the season, the Razorbacks struggled to get the ball in the Huskies’ basket. They shot 39% from the field and 23% from behind the arc. The one bright spot in Arkansas’ shooting performance was the team’s 80% free throw rate.
“There were a lot of possessions where we would go down the floor and throw up a shot that we shouldn’t be taking,'' Neighbors said. “That is something that we are going to consistently work on in practice as the season carries on.”
Up next, the Hogs will travel to Jonesboro to take on Arkansas State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday inside First National Bank Arena.