Bush Adds Offense To Arsenal

FAYETTEVILLE -- Sitting center stage in the postgame interview room, Adrienne Bush appeared at ease and comfortable with these new surroundings.

It matched her comfort zone on the court Sunday.

Known for her defense and athleticism in her two years at Arkansas, Bush added another aspect to her game in the Lady'Backs' 83-71 win against Mississippi State in front of a season-high crowd of 3,393 in Bud Walton Arena.

Offensive weapon.

While the defense was there, with a pair of second-half steals and a bang-up job guarding Lady Bulldogs' scoring machine Tan White in the first half, Bush decided it was time to add a little offense to her arsenal.

"I told (Adrienne) after the game, it was probably her best game of her career," Arkansas coach Susie Gardner said. "I'm not saying this changed her life by any means, but after we played Ole Miss (on Jan. 9) and saw (Armintie) Price, I said, ‘You know Bush, you can play like Price. You can go and get some offensive boards and some putbacks. You're very athletic and you've got a great first step.' And ever since then, she's got this newfound mentality that she can do these things."

Like Price, who leads the Southeastern Conference in rebounding and steals, Bush has always been handy as an in-your-face defender not afraid to crash the glass. But Sunday, Bush's never-quit approach provided a spark on the offensive end as well, as the senior guard finished with a career-high 13 points on a 5 of 6 performance from the field.

"I kind of know what my role is on this team," Bush said. "I'm not going to be the one to go out there and score double-figures every night. I understand that and I accept that. But my goal is just to go out there and play good defense and do things I know I am capable of doing.

"Coach (Gardner) has been talking to us about how everybody needs to play to their strengths and if we do, we'll be a more complete team. I feel like my strengths are defense and rebounding. And if I go out there and do those to the best of my ability, everything else will hopefully fall in place."

Bush's defense and rebounding were key as Arkansas (11-5, 1-4) broke open a close game midway through the second half. Leading just 45-39 with 14:09 left to play, Bush came up with two steals and five points over the next four minutes as the Lady'Backs took control, building a 59-41 lead with 10:03 remaining.

"(Adrienne) is a great offensive rebounder and she goes to the glass hard and finishes nicely," said Arkansas sophomore point guard Kristin Peoples. "I think that was a big boost for us. Her ‘and-ones' definitely gave us a push."

Twice during the Lady'Backs big run in the second half, Bush fought hard on the boards and came up with an easy score while being fouled, converting 1 of 2 old-fashioned three-point plays.

All together, Bush surprised the Lady Bulldogs (13-3, 2-1) with 10 points, three rebounds and two steals in the second half alone.

"I said Hallelujah (after the game)," Bush said. "Boy that was a relief. That's a monkey off your back, I guess, to get your first SEC win."

A senior transfer who originally signed with Southwest Missouri State after starring at Russellville High, Bush could be granted a fifth year of eligibility next season after spending just one year at SMS.

"I've pretty much made up my mind that I want to play with these guys (next year)," Bush said. "Compared to my freshman year, this is collectively the best team I've ever been around as far as like getting along and having fun. I mean, shoot, I don't know how many teams across the country go out and try to hang out with each other. I mean, yeah, we do fight like sisters from time to time. But in the end we are a big family and we enjoy each others company and hopefully they enjoy me."

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