Pfeifer's Toughness Pays Off For Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE -- Somebody, anybody needed to step up.

Suffering through a scoring drought which lasted nearly as long as one quarter of football, Arkansas was begging for a bucket.

Sarah Pfeifer delivered.

A 12-foot fadeaway jumper by Pfeifer with 13:46 left in the second half broke an 11 minute, 40 second run without a field goal for the Lady'Backs. It also stopped the bleeding as visiting Indiana had built its largest lead of the night, at 38-30, before Pfeifer's oh-so important basket.

Arkansas would rally for a 53-50 win against the Hoosiers in Bud Walton Arena. And while Pfeifer wasn't on the court in the closing minutes, her play definitely stood out on a night when the Lady'Backs desperately needed somebody to step up.

"Sarah gave us a spark, like she always does," said Arkansas junior point guard Kristin Peoples. "She gave us some momentum there and she always does with her energy."

With a team-high 13 points -- which tied a career best -- and six rebounds, Pfeifer's numbers were impressive. But in a physical game which saw both teams struggle on offense, the numbers weren't the biggest reason this junior forward from Ozark got props when things were finally settled.

Whether it was her typical diving to the floor play on defense, or her relentless pursuit of a loose ball on the boards, Pfeifer showed the 2,843 fans in Bud Walton Arena why she is so important to Arkansas' success.

"You noticed I started both (Ruby Vaden) and Sarah in the second half (at forwards)," said Lady'Backs coach Susie Gardner, who had both players coming off the bench to start the game. "I was going with the five players who had played the hardest.

"I talked to Sarah before the game and told her we were going to try to get her the ball more. She had that stretch (in the first half) where she had three baskets in a row. I just need to do a better job of getting her out of there at times when she gets worn out. But she has the ability to score like that."

Pfeifer -- wearing a protective wrap on her right shoulder -- forced the crowd into a hush on more than one occasion with her all-out style of play. Each time the Lady'Backs' junior hit the court with a thud, fans held their collective breath until Pfeifer lifted herself off the court.

Late in the game, though, Pfeifer did not bounce back up as quickly as usual. Instead of her right shoulder, it was the left shoulder which took a hard hit to the surface, forcing Pfeifer to miss the final 2 minutes and 40 seconds of regulation.

But remember, this gal is tough. And to Pfeifer, pain is usually not an option.

"(My shoulder) didn't pop out of place too bad," Pfeifer said. "I'll be all right."

Not afraid of pain or getting dirty -- so to speak -- on the floor, Pfeifer had to love the challenge presented by the Hoosiers on Wednesday. Physical, rough and tough hoops was taking place. And for Pfeifer, that's just the way she likes it.

"I'll play whoever wants to play us," Pfeifer said. "But those girls (on Indiana) were cut. I was impressed when I saw them come out."

And plenty of folks were impressed with Pfeifer as well.

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