FAYETTEVILLE (UofA) – The University of Arkansas women's basketball team escaped with a one-point win, 57-56, over Utah in a non-conference match-up in Bud Walton Arena Sunday.
Arkansas (4-1) struggled with Utah for much of the game but put together some last minute heroics to get the win over the Utes (1-2).
"The team did a good job just to get to the last seconds of the game," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "It is easy to get deflated but this team felt like they could win it."
Utah controlled the tempo, the pace and had the lead from the early minutes of the game. They were up nine with 16:28 to play but the Razorbacks just kept chipping away at the score.
Down one, 48-49, with about nine minutes to play, Arkansas got a tough basket from sophomore Dominique Robison to take the lead. Robinson finished with a season-best and team-leading 15 points and eight rebounds.
The game tightened up at that point but again Utah managed to grab the lead up four at the 5:28 mark.
Robinson hit a layup with time running out on the shot clock cutting the lead to two.
The teams traded misses and before junior Sarah Watkins ran a set play off an in bounds play and hit a huge three-pointer that gave Arkansas the lead, 57-56, with 2:22 to play.
"The biggest play of the day was Sarah's three late," Collins said. "It is a simple play and risky considering she didn't have her best game tonight but we have confidence in her to hit that shot."
Arkansas' defense then took over forcing a shot clock violation by Utah. Arkansas ran the offense but missed their shot at the other end but Robinson again stepped up with a rebound that gave the Razorbacks the ball back.
The Razorbacks ran the clock but were unable to score missing a jumper at the one-minute mark. Utah took a timeout and then in bounded under the Razorback basket. They drove the court but committed the charge with 43.6 seconds remaining.
Both teams substituted and Arkansas missed both bonus baskets giving Utah one last chance. The Utes called a timeout to set the play followed by an Arkansas timeout to adjust the defense.
Utah threw the baseball pass to half court with one second on the game clock where Robinson intercepted the pass sealing the Razorback win.
"The defense was much better in the second half," Collen said, "but Utah still stepped up and made the shots. We battled tough and played together as a team in the last five to six minutes and that was the difference for us today."
In addition to Robinson, Arkansas got 12 points from senior Lyndsay Harris and nine from senior C'eira Ricketts. Ricketts also had seven rebounds in the win.
Arkansas scored four quick points but appeared sluggish and tentative in the opening minutes of the game. The Razorbacks allowed Utah to go on a 9-0 run taking a 4-9 lead at the first media timeout.
Collen made some key substitutions and Arkansas found more energy as the game progressed but Utah continued to expand its lead doubling up the Razorbacks, 8-16, at the midway point of the first half.
Utah stretched the lead to nine and dominated the boards in the early part of the game. In addition, the Utes were able to get Watkins in foul trouble further compounding Arkansas' problems.
Collen worked in another new lineup going small with Harris, Robinson, Townsend, Williams and Ricketts and Arkansas made a run closing within three, 20-23, around the eight minute mark. The lineup change sparked the defense that forced a Utah miss, scored and got a steal closing the gap even more.
Ricketts drove the lane and was fouled, hitting one to tie the game at 23. The rest of the half was a much more closely played game with neither team really finding an advantage. The period closed with Utah up 35-30 at the break.
Watkins played just six minutes in the first half with foul trouble and Arkansas lost the rebounding battle, 19-13, in the first frame.
Arkansas' rebounding woes continued in the second half as Utah continued to managed the tempo and slow the game down, taking the Razorbacks out of their rhythm.
Arkansas returns to the court hosting Grambling State Friday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. Please call the Razorback Ticket Office at 575-5151 or log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com for tickets.