Arkansas, the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, hit its first seven shots and breezed to an 83-68 win over Alabama in a women's basketball game that wasn't as close as the score.
The Lady Razorbacks (14-8, 3-7 in the Southeastern Conference) led by as much as 81-55, and still led 83-59 with three minutes left.
"It was really fun to see them be successful and see their hard work pay off," said UA coach Susie Gardner, who devoted three practices to shooting drills in the past week. "Just call me the shot doctor."
Sarah Pfeifer made 8 of 11 floor shots and 5 of 6 free throws for Arkansas in matching her career high of 21 points.
She helped put a dent in Alabama's postseason plans. The Tide dropped to 13-9 and 4-5 in the SEC.
"I thought Pfeifer was really the difference," said Alabama coach Rick Moody. "She hit some big shots when we were trying to come back."
Lady'Backs point guard Kristin Peoples, who counted five "strawberries" on her body after a physical game, scored 15 points. Rochelle Vaughn added 14 and Danielle Allen 11 for Arkansas.
"Vaughn probably played her most solid game of the year," Gardner said. "She was a total player tonight."
Natasha Gamble led Alabama with 16 points -- 14 in the second half -- and guard Monique Bivins scored 13, but the Tide could never stop Arkansas consistently enough to make a meaningful run.
"Arkansas took us to the wood shed," Moody said. "I really believe they came out and threw the first four or five punches and set the tone early. For whatever reason, they were really ready to play."
Moody, after watching the Lady'Backs on videotape and reading their stat sheets, said, "We wanted to force them to play over us and not by us. But they came out busting threes, and that makes us look kinda stupid as coaches."
Arkansas made 6 of 11 3-point shots in the first half, including 3 of 4 by Vaughn off the bench.
"I benched Ro against Auburn to get her attention, but it didn't work," Gardner said. "Tonight she really played well. But so did Sheree Thompson (eight points). So I'll probably keep the lineup the same."
Arkansas plays at noon Sunday against Georgia Tech (also 14-8), as part of an Atlanta-area doubleheader including Georgia vs. Clemson.
By getting its 14th win, Arkansas qualified for a WNIT bid it would likely accept. Gardner decided against the WNIT after a 16-12 season last year.
"Arkansas played with a lot of authority tonight," Moody said. "We didn't do enough on the defensive end to stop them. They shot 62 percent in the first half."
The Lady'Backs built on a 50-33 halftime lead by making seven of their first 11 shots in the second half.
Alabama tried to stem the tide with 6-4, 200-pounds-plus Krystle Johnson inside.
"I know one time she (Johnson) was posting up and I was behind her, and Fife couldn't see me," Allen said.
But it was Allen who scored after a Gardner timeout when Alabama had cut a 31-14 first-half deficit to 38-30. Vaughn quickly followed with a steal and 3-point shot and Melissa Hobbs contributed four points from her new power forward position for Arkansas.
"They did good," Pfeifer said of her teammates. "I was proud of them. I really think all our practice paid off. We spent six or eight hours on shooting, nonstop."
Gardner couldn't stop smiling.
"It makes you feel good," she said. "Maybe we'll just spend 90 minutes on shooting every day now and forget plays. We even made 19 of 22 free throws."
Gardner has found a go-to player in Pfeifer, who has never given up for a single second this season.
"How about Sarah?" Gardner said. "That was our objective -- to get her the ball -- and we're going to do it as long as we can."
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