Physicality and toughness characterized the Arkansas women's basketball team's nail-biting 66-62 victory Thursday night over Jackson State in Bud Walton Arena.
Sophomore guard Sasha Goforth opened the scoring when she sank one of two free throws.
The first quarter included two Arkansas scoring droughts longer than two minutes. The first came to an end with 4:50 left in the quarter when reigning Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year Jersey Wolfenbarger made a basket, cutting the Tigers’ lead to one.
Two minutes later, junior guard Makayla Daniels, Arkansas’ leading scorer this season, made a layup that gave the Hogs their first advantage since leading the Tigers 1-0 in the first minute of the game.
At the end of the first quarter, Arkansas trailed Jackson State 19-15, largely because of its poor shooting. The Razorbacks shot 33% from the field, compared to the Tigers’ 54%.
With 6:34 left in the second quarter, the two teams were tied 23-23. The Hogs then went on a 14-5 run led by Daniels, who contributed nine of 14 points. Arkansas outscored Jackson State by 13 in the second quarter, earning a 37-28 lead going into halftime.
The Tigers opened the second half on a 13-5 run of their own, cutting the Razorback lead to one, but junior Destinee Oberg hit a tough layup and redshirt freshman Elauna Eaton sunk a 3-pointer, putting an end to the onslaught.
As the third quarter came to an end, Jackson State took the lead again off an and-one jumper by sophomore guard Keshuna Luckett.
The Razorbacks were dominant in the fourth quarter. They started on a 9-1 run and forced four turnovers while giving up none.
Meanwhile, Jackson State center Ameysha Williams put up a strong opposition as she controlled the paint throughout the night, earning several clutch rebounds, defensive stops and tough layups. Most impressive was her and-one layup followed by a tough rebound and outlet to Dayzsha Rogan, who was fouled and sank both free throws to give Jackson State the lead with 2:55 left in the contest.
“Ameysha Williams — seven blocked shots, she was protecting that rim,” Arkansas head coach Mike Neighbors said in the postgame press conference. “She would’ve been All-SEC had she remained in our conference.”
Not to be outdone, Goforth made a layup of her own one minute later, got fouled and made the free throw to retake the Arkansas lead. Another minute later, after losing the lead at the free throw line, the Fayetteville native hit the go-ahead 3-pointer and all but secured the Razorback victory despite shooting a meager 27% from the field during the game.
“I didn’t necessarily want to take another three,” Goforth said. “That’s what they were giving me, so I had to take it.”
With 10 seconds left, the Hogs looked to their two superstars to seal the game at the free throw line. Daniels sank both of her free throws, while Goforth missed both of hers. The four-point lead proved to be insurmountable.
The Razorbacks improved to 8-2 on the season with Thursday’s win. Arkansas could extend its winning streak to three games Sunday when the Little Rock Trojans visit Fayetteville. The game will tip off at 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.