Gators Chomp Lady Razorbacks

FAYETTEVILLE -- It's official. The Lady Razorbacks are struggling on offense.

Florida, the second Southeastern Conference team to take advantage of that, defeated the Lady Razorbacks 68-56 on Thursday night behind guard Tamia Williams' 23 points.

The Gators (10-4) jumped to 1-0 in the SEC, while Arkansas (10-3) dipped to 0-2 in the league.

Just as in a 78-57 loss to Georgia last week, the Lady'Backs dug an early hole for themselves, falling behind 7-0 in the first four minutes and 43-26 by halftime. Also as in the Georgia game, Arkansas had 22 turnovers to Florida's 17.

"Do we change the lineup and sacrifice defense for offense?" wondered UA coach Susie Gardner. "That's the decision I have to make."

April Seggebruch, Arkansas' best outside shooter but not among its best defenders, scored six points in the final five minutes after not playing in the first 35 minutes.

By the time Seggebruch entered, Arkansas trailed 60-44.

The Lady'Backs outrebounded the taller Gators 42-40, but Gardner acknowledged that Arkansas became frustrated after several multiple-miss possessions.

"Shooting is contagious," Gardner said. "If no one is hitting, you get tight."

Arkansas guard Rochelle Vaughn undercut an otherwise solid performance including 9 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds by making only 1-of-14 from the field.

The Lady'Backs shot just 30.8 percent for the game. Florida was also cold, but managed to win with 39 percent shooting.

"There's never an easy night in the SEC," said Gators coach Carolyn Peck, who once coached Purdue to a national title. "I'm extremely proud, because Arkansas is one of the better defensive teams we've watched all year."

Besides Williams, only Tashia Morehead scored in double figures with 11 points for Florida.

Gardner tried a triangle-and-2 defense to start the game, with chasers on Williams and Bernice Mosby. That defense helped limit Mosby to four points -- 11 below her average -- but Williams went off after Arkansas switched to its scramble defense.

"Adrienne Bush did a good job early of keeping Williams from touching the ball," Gardner said. "But when we went to our scramble, we left Williams wide open."

On offense, Arkansas missed Kristin Moore, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

"We tried to run the high-low game for Ruby Vaden, but it seemed like all five Florida players had a foot in the paint," Gardner said. "They sagged in on Ruby, so we had open corner shots but we couldn't make them."

Vaden and Kristin Peoples were Arkansas' top scorers with just nine points each.

Sarah Pfiefer, Brittney Vaughn and Bush were next with seven points each.

Pfeifer received treatment on her right shoulder twice during the first half and said she planned a visit to the doctor today.

"I'm a little messed up," she said. "But I should be better tomorrow."

The Lady'Backs, who had relied on a zone the past three games, changed to a man-to-man in the second half and battled back within 63-54 with 2 minutes, 47 seconds left, exciting 2,318 fans in Bud Walton Arena.

But on the ensuing inbounds play, Melissa Hobbs was unable to find Seggebruch and had her lob pass for Pfeifer intercepted.

"That was a huge play," Gardner said. "Even if you don't have your first option, you can't turn the ball over."

Still, Peoples stole the ball and had a one-and-one opportunity with 2:01 left, but missed the first shot. Arkansas got the rebound but still couldn't score, and that was that. Williams padded the final margin with five free throws.

Williams said she could tell early that the Lady'Backs were "shying away from their shots."

Peck, who learned about Moore's torn ACL from Gardner before the game, said, "I hate that for her, because she was having a phenomenal year. I wish her the best and wish her a speedy recovery."

Ole Miss, a 78-51 loser at Georgia on Thursday night, is Arkansas' next opponent, at 2 p.m. Sunday at Oxford, Miss.

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