FAYETTEVILLE (ArkansasRazorbacks.com) - The University of Arkansas women's basketball team earned their first SEC win on Thursday, defeating the LSU Tigers 63-54 at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks were propelled by a career high 14 points by senior Erin Gatling, and Quistelle Williams' third double-double of the season. Arkansas improved to 13-3, 1-2 SEC, while LSU fell to 10-6, 1-2 SEC.
Making her first start at Arkansas, Gatling displayed a strong shooting touch all night. She made her first four shots, including a career high in three pointers made with three. Gatling finished the game with 14 points, and added two steals and two assists.
"Erin made my decision to start her at the two spot look good," Arkansas head coach Collen said. "She hit those two threes to start. My hunch all along was that she was prepared. I knew she'd come out and compete."
Arkansas had a hot start out of the gate. Gatling opened the scoring with a three pointer on the first possession. That keyed an opening 14-0 run, with Gatling adding another three and LSU missing their first eight shots.
The Tigers responded with an 11-3 run to cut into the deficit. The Tigers had cut the lead to two points at 20-18 when the Razorbacks got hot from long range. On consecutive possessions, Melissa Wolff, Calli Berna, and Keira Peak all swished three pointers to extend the lead.
The Razorbacks finished off a strong opening stanza by taking a 31-25 lead into halftime. Arkansas had a 24-19 advantage in rebounds in the first half, forced nine turnovers, and blocked three shots.
Gatling picked up where she left off in the second frame, knocking down a career high third three pointer of the game to open up a double digit lead at 38-28. The Tigers roared back, posting an 11-1 run to tie the game at 44 with twelve minutes remaining, and take their final lead of the game at 48-46.
Williams spurred the Razorbacks back into the lead for good by scoring on two consecutive possessions, and added a three pointer to send Arkansas on a 9-0 run over a 2:30 stretch to retake and extend their lead to 55-48.
Arkansas never relinquished that lead, finishing the game on a 15-6 run to earn their first conference victory. Williams also set a career high with 12 rebounds. She also had 13 points for her third double-double of the season.
"We needed a win for our confidence," Collen said. "It was good to get that first conference win. Now we have to hold it together, take it one game at a time and believe in ourselves. I think we have a very good basketball team."
The Razorbacks hit the road this weekend, traveling to Nashville to face the Vanderbilt Commodores. Tip is at 2 p.m. on Sunday.