Lady'Backs Dig Deep First-Half Hole

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' Sarah Pfeifer said she saw a lot of heart and guts from the Lady'Backs in an attempted second half comeback against Tennessee on Sunday.

Unfortunately, those qualities can't erase a 20-point lead by the sixth-ranked team in America.

Midway through the second half, trailing 61-41, Arkansas barreled on a 14-2 run to cut the Lady Vols' lead to eight, 63-55, on a Sheree Thompson steal and transition layup with 7:58 left to play.

But after trailing much of the game by double digits and falling behind by 20 points three times, Arkansas was so physically and emotionally fatigued they could not gain any more ground on Tennessee as the Lady Vols won 84-71.

"(We showed) guts and heart," Pfeifer said. "I think the fans in red were not ashamed to cheer for us today. As a team we gained confidence. We don't get discouraged. We always think we have a chance. We just have to dig a little deeper."

The first half for the Lady'Backs on Sunday was just another in a long line of poor shooting performances and mistakes.

Arkansas (15-8, 3-9 SEC) shot 6 of 28 in the first half (21.4 percent) from the field and just 8 of 14 (57.1 percent) from the free throw line.

The Lady'Backs have now lost four of their last six games. In the first half of those four losses (Ole Miss, at Auburn, at Vanderbilt and Sunday against Tennessee), Arkansas is a combined 27 of 113 (23.9 percent) shooting.

In the lane, Arkansas had trouble maneuvering around and shooting over Tennessee's overwhelming height advantage and shot just 4 of 17 within 10 feet from the basket.

No Lady'Back had more than two field goals in the first half (Thompson 2-8; Danielle Allen 0-4; Pfeifer 1-5; Rochelle Vaughn 0-3; April Seggebruch 1-4; Kristen Peoples and Adrienne Bush were both 1-1)

By halftime, Tennessee (21-4, 11-1) outrebounded Arkansas 23-13 and owned the assist category 11-3 as the Lady Vols worked the ball inside to reserve forward Shyra Ely, who dominated the Lady'Backs in the paint for 30 points in the game.

After the first media timeout with Tennessee leading 4-2, the Lady Vols went on a 23-6 run over a 7:08 span. The lead hovered between 15-20 points for the rest of the first and most of the second halves.

Gardner said it was a time she was proud her players were able to find the courage to finish out the game.

"There was a point in the first half where we looked like we were going to fold the tent," Gardner said. "This was a positive in terms of their fight and continuing to make things happen."

Arkansas will aim to stay within striking distance against No. 1 LSU on Thursday at Bud Walton Arena.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories