All Payne, No Gain For Lady'Backs

AUBURN, Ala. -- Marita Payne earned the first triple double in Auburn basketball history -- men's or women's -- as the Tigers defeated Arkansas 62-51 before 2,216 fans on Thursday night.

Not even Charles Barkley ever achieved what the 6-foot-5 Payne did -- 15 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record 13 blocked shots.

"I knew no one had ever done it -- I read it on the Internet a few months ago," Payne said. "So it's been a goal."

Auburn (11-9, 2-5 in the Southeastern Conference) pushed ahead of Arkansas (13-8, 2-7) into 10th place in the league, despite giving up 25 offensive rebounds to the smaller Lady'Backs.

Sarah Pfeifer got her first career double-double for Arkansas with 17 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, while Danielle Allen also double-doubled with 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds.

"Sarah and Danielle played as hard and as well as they could," said Arkansas coach Susie Gardner.

The Lady Razorbacks led 21-20 with three minutes left in the first half before falling behind 27-21 at intermission, then pulled even at 51 with five minutes left in the game.

But Payne, despite playing with four fouls, blocked five shots in four Arkansas possessions down the stretch to keep the Lady'Backs at arm's length -- literally.

"Marita doesn't jump well, but she has long arms and she's smart," said Auburn coach Nell Fortner.

Natasha Brackett, held to eight points by Arkansas, said, "Marita is deceptive. She'll have her hands down, but she's still in good position."

Pfeifer, one of four Lady'Backs shaken up during the game, said, "Payne is not stronger or quicker than other centers in the SEC, but she takes more chances and makes better decisions. She kept swatting the ball back at me."

Fortner said she'd never had a team allow 25 offensive rebounds while winning before, but Arkansas shot so poorly (23.6 percent, including 8 of 40 in the second half) that it only scored eight points off its offensive rebounds. The Lady'Backs also outrebounded Auburn 48-40 for the game.

"We weren't hitting outside, so we kept going to Sarah (6 of 19) inside," Gardner said. "We just couldn't score down the stretch."

Allen, who has quietly gathered 37 rebounds in her last four SEC games, said, "I was screaming at the end, I was so frustrated."

Hit on the left elbow at one point, Allen said her whole hand went numb.

UA guard Kristin Peoples suffered a hyper-flexed knee while trying to take a charge against Brackett early in the first half and did not return until the second half.

Pfeifer left briefly with a cut on her forehead, from one of Payne's blocked shots.

"I can't comment on the calls, but I do have a crater on my forehead," Pfeifer said.

Arkansas starting guard Adrienne Bush (four points) "tweaked" her shoulder but still played 29 minutes.

Rochelle Vaughn came off the bench for the first time this season for Arkansas but still struggled, shooting 1 of 10 from the field. Sheree Thompson, who replaced Vaughn as a starter, shot 0 of 8.

Brittney Vaughn gave Arkansas a spark with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals, but also dribbled the ball out of bounds during the Lady'Backs' meltdown at the end of the first half.

Pfeifer said, "We played hard, but made stupid decisions. I missed a blockout (on which Payne put Auburn up 59-51), and that gives the other team momentum."

Nicole Louden scored 12 points for Auburn, and Fortner got good work from 5-6 guard Taneishia Thompson (eight points) off the bench after removing three starters early in the second half for lack of focus.

"We just couldn't get ourselves together," Brackett said. "Arkansas was playing with five guards, but they made good fakes and they're good players."

Allen, after a free throw lesson from Gardner this week, made 8 of 10 free throws. Two of those pulled Arkansas within 48-47, and then Allen made a left-handed layup for a 49-48 UA lead.

But Louden scored four big points down the stretch and Brackett had a wild tip-in for a 55-51 lead. A turnover by Pfeifer and a missed lefty shot by Bush kept Arkansas from drawing closer.

"We have to learn from this," Pfeifer said. "Otherwise it's a wasted game."

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