The Arkansas women’s basketball team endured a lot of emotions after a heartbreaking 66-62 loss against Wright State on Monday afternoon during the NCAA Tournament at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.
The Wright State Raiders got the better of the Razorbacks in the first two quarters, building a 12-point lead by halftime. The deficit did not discourage the Hogs though, as the team worked hard to catch up and gain a two-point lead with less than two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
With only 1:35 left, and the Raiders down by two, Wright State made two 3-pointers and two free throws, which secured its win and propelled the team to play further into the NCAA Tournament.
Senior guard Chelsea Dungee led the team in points with 27, and was one of only two Arkansas players who scored in the double digits. Sophomore guard Makayla Daniels was the other double-digit scorer with 11 points.
The NCAA Tournament game against the Raiders was similar to Arkansas’ game against Ole Miss in the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Both teams’ defenses held the Hogs to fewer points than previous conference games, said head coach Mike Neighbors.
“I’m going to credit the other team’s defense,” Neighbors said in a post game press conference. “I think in Ole Miss and Wright State, we had two very well prepared teams that were not going to allow us to get to the foul line and make 3s.”
Monday was an emotional night for the senior-heavy Arkansas team, as they had expected a happier sendoff to end the season.
“Right now there’s a lot of emotions because we expected a different outcome and a deep run in the tournament,” Dungee said. “But there’s so many things to remember from this class. We have a big senior class and we’ve done great things over the years and we had a great season. We won some huge games that no one thought we could win and I’m just grateful to be here and I’m grateful to play for the University of Arkansas.”
Dungee also spoke about her time at Arkansas and how she worked alongside the seniors to turn the program around.
“We’ve had a great year since we’ve been here,” Dungee said. “We won some big games, had some great seasons. I’m proud of this group. I’m so thankful I chose to come to Arkansas. I’ll just never be able to thank coach Neighbors and the coaching staff enough for the opportunity they gave me.”
Neighbors said he is going to start focusing on next year, so if the Hogs are in this position again, the team will not make the same mistakes.
“We’ll go back and break it down,” Neighbors said. “Throughout now until next November, we’ll be thinking through what we can do better, so that when we’re in this situation again, we’ll be better prepared.”
The Razorbacks ended their season with a 19-9 record, documenting the team’s first outing to the NCAA Tournament since 2015.