With seven points, five rebounds, one assist and no turnovers, Kristina Andjelkovic's numbers might not have seemed that impressive in black and white. But for Andjelkovic, those numbers show just how far this junior college transfer has come.
And perhaps how far she still can go.
Against South Carolina on Sunday, Andjelkovic was thrust into the gameplan more often than before with the season-ending injuries to fellow post players Kristin Moore and Ruby Vaden. But in the Lady'Backs' first game since Vaden's injury left the team two tall players short, Andjelkovic appeared ready and willing to do her part, chipping in valuable minutes in Arkansas' 61-49 win against the Gamecocks (6-13, 0-5) in front of a crowd of 3,084 in Bud Walton Arena.
"I think (Kristina) stepped up great for us in the post," Arkansas sophomore guard Kristin Peoples said. "She's been working really hard in practice and like I said before, that hook shot was great. Everybody on the bench was so excited.
"She's been working really hard and she definitely contributed in a big way."
Along with the "hook shot" which helped to pump up Arkansas' bench, Andjelkovic tossed in two more first-half jumpers and a free throw to finish with seven points before intermission -- one short of a career-high -- as the Lady'Backs (12-6, 2-5) broke out to a 35-22 lead at the break.
The most notable change wasn't the points or the perfect 3-for-3 effort from the field in the first half, though. Instead, it was Andjelkovic's time on the floor which stood out. Averaging just 8.9 minutes per game, the 6-foot-2 junior transfer from Chipola College in Marianna, Fla., -- by way of Belgrade, Serbia -- played 11 minutes in the first half alone before logging a season-high 23 minutes by the time the final horn sounded.
"Kristina is obviously going to benefit and get some more playing time," said Arkansas coach Susie Gardner. "She always wants to work extra with the coaches and she knows her limitations. I think she's just doing what she can do.
"She's good at doubling down and she can hit the open elbow shot. And she had a hook shot. One thing we've been working on, being a little small, is a step-away shot and a hook shot, and I think that probably fired her up, that hook shot. Those are the things that she's going to have to do, because she doesn't have the biggest vertical on our team."
With Moore and Vaden out, it's up to Andjelkovic to provide depth down inside behind junior Sarah Pfeifer and sophomore Danielle Allen. But the pressure to perform hasn't been put on her back.
At least not yet.
"(Coach Gardner) hasn't said anything like that," Andjelkovic said. "She just wants our post players to stay out of foul trouble.
"We're just trying to practice hard and do our best."
For now, Sunday's game can been viewed as a step in the right direction for Andjelkovic and for a team desperately searching for help inside the paint. And if she keeps it up, seeing Andjelkovic in the lineup more and more might not be that big of a surprise.
"I don't know yet (about Kristina's playing time)," Gardner said. "I'm still trying to figure out the rotation, but I would say 20 minutes (per game) is about right."
Andjelkovic Lends Helping Hand
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