Lady'Backs Cruise To Victory In Alltel

NORTH LITTLE ROCK -- Sheree Thompson and Sarah Pfeifer scored career highs of 20 and 19 points respectively to lead Arkansas' Lady Razorbacks to an 82-68 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Thursday night.

An enthusiastic crowd of 1,696 in Alltel Arena watched as Thompson made her first six shots from the field to help Arkansas (8-1) take a 35-28 halftime lead en route to its sixth straight win.

"I figured I'd better be ready at the start," Thompson said.

Both Thompson and Pfeifer made 9-of-12 floor shots as the Lady Razorbacks shot 46.8 percent and hounded ULL into 24 turnovers.

Anna Petrakova, a 6-foot-3 center from Moscow, Russia, led Louisiana-Lafayette (7-2) with 22 points.

Ragin' Cajuns coach J. Kelley Hall praised the Lady'Backs as a potential Top-15 team, but UA coach Susie Gardner was just happy to see her team improve on offense.

"Sheree played an outstanding game," Gardner said. "She's more confident in our offense now, and I kinda just let her loose."

Pfeifer recalled her game against ULL here two years ago, when the Ragin' Cajuns dared her to shoot. They tried the same strategy Thursday night, leaving her open at the elbow in their sagging man-to-man defense.

"They disrespected me, and it kinda made me mad," Pfeifer said. "I just kept on shooting."

Hall said he was surprised that Arkansas made so many jump shots from just inside the 3-point arc, after watching five of their game tapes.

But the Lady'Backs also made 7-of-20 from 3-point range, including 5-of-7 in one stretch of the second half.

Kristin Peoples made 3-of-6 3s for Arkansas for nine points, but did not have a single steal.

Thompson was the leading UA thief with four of the team's 12 steals.

"Sheree has improved her defense, too," Gardner said. "But the player who really got us going on defense was Adrienne Bush (two steals)."

Bush, after making a layup off a feed from Kristin Moore for a 48-41 lead, stole the ball to set up a Thompson jumper for 50-41.

The Ragin' Cajuns had sliced their deficit to 37-34 early in the second half, thanks to three 3-pointers by Bernette Tolston (19 points).

But Moore countered with a jumper for a 39-34 edge and a steal which led to a Rochelle Vaughn fast-break layup and 41-34 lead.

"Our crowd really helped us when we got that fast-break basket," Pfeifer said.

Hall said his team enjoyed the atmosphere also.

"We'd like to come here every other year," Hall said.

Vaughn had 15 points and eight assists for Arkansas and helped bother ULL point guard Ashley Blanche, who had nine turnovers.

It was the fifth time this season Arkansas has forced an opposing point guard to commit nine or more turnovers.

"Arkansas puts tremendous pressure on the ball," Hall said. "We shot 54 percent tonight, but Arkansas outrebounded us by eight (37-29) and they only had 11 turnovers. I'd be shocked if they're not in the Top 15 in a couple of weeks. They go 12 deep now."

Melissa Hobbs made her first appearance as a Lady'Back but went 0-of-3 from the field in five minutes. She rimmed out a 3-point try at the buzzer.

Pfeifer scored her 19 points in just 16 minutes, and also tied Vaughn for the team high in rebounds with five.

"Sarah is a heck of an athlete and a heck of a rebounder," Hall said. "Arkansas has shooters, slashers and penetrators."

Gardner plays them all, substituting strictly by feel.

"I don't have a rotation -- have you noticed?" she said. "Whoever is getting it done gets the minutes."

Arkansas will next try to get it done against unbeaten Oregon at home on Tuesday.

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