OXFORD, Miss. (ArkansasRazorbacks.com) – University of Arkansas senior Sarah Watkins dropped in a career-best 28 points leading the Razorbacks to a 77-66 Southeastern Conference win against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., Thursday.
Watkins was 11-for-15, going 6-for-7 from the line and pulling in five rebounds helping the Razorbacks (15-6, 3-5 SEC) to just the second-ever win in Oxford, Miss., in program history.
"Sarah was tough tonight," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "We need games like that from her as we continue through the SEC season. That was our game plan going in as we knew Ole Miss was not big inside."
Ole Miss took the early lead with the hot shooting hand in the opening 10 minutes of play. The Lady Rebels' aggressive trapping defense prevented Arkansas from getting the ball inside and Ole Miss forced the Razorbacks to handle the ball away from the basket.
Arkansas, meanwhile, started the game 4-for-13 from the floor as Ole Miss (8-13, 1-7 SEC) opened the lead. A media timeout allowed the Razorbacks to make some adjustments and the Razorbacks put together a 6-for-7 run in four minutes closing within one, 23-23.
The Razorbacks tied the game at 25 when Keira Peak drove the lane, was fouled and hit the bonus shot. The contest was much more closely contested for the rest of the half despite foul trouble for both teams. The game see-sawed back-and-forth before Arkansas grabbed the lead again on a basket from Peak, at the 3:30 mark.
Arkansas maintained the lead going into the locker room with a 38-35 advantage. The 38 points is the highest point total in an SEC game this season.
Watkins was tough under the hoop in the final 12 minutes in the opening stanza. The Germantown, Tenn., native scored a game-high 16 points and finished with just one foul in the first 20 minutes.
Watkins picked up where she left off in the second half and scored well in the paint. The game remained tight for about the first eight minutes of the second half until Watkins along with Quistelle Williams and Peak really heated up leading Arkansas on a 20-3 run that put the game out of reach for the Lady Rebels.
Arkansas has played some close, defensive games in their last three contests but the offense came to life tonight. The Razorbacks shot 48.4 percent with their best point total, 77, in Oxford. The Razorbacks shot 53.3 percent in the second half behind Watkins.
Sophomore Jhasmin Bowen added 14 points, while Peak and Williams scored 12 each. Arkansas also won the rebounding battle. 44-37, and took good care of the basketball with just nine turnovers.
Sophomore Calli Berna was key to the post players' success. She was credited with eight assists and six rebounds. Berna played 40 minutes without a turnover and she blocked one shot.
"This is a great win as we head into the next road game," Collen said. "We need this momentum as the season continues."
Arkansas scored 48 points in the paint and 34 from the bench.
The Razorbacks continue the SEC road trip traveling to Starkville, Miss., for a Sunday game at Mississippi State. The game airs live on FSN with a 2 p.m. central tip.