Lady'Backs To Travel To Jonesboro For ASU Game

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas' second-round game against Arkansas State in the Women's National Invitation Tournament will be held in Jonesboro because UA administrators declined to get into a bidding war for the home game.

Thanks to a well-organized corporate effort in Jonesboro, ASU was able to bid $40,000 for Monday's second-round game in the Convocation Center.

UA women's athletic director Bev Lewis decided on a bid of $28,000 -- way more than the minimum bid of $6,500 that it took Arkansas to land Friday's first-round game against Nevada-Las Vegas, and significantly more than Arkansas bid to secure home advantage for the WNIT finals against Wisconsin in 1999, when the Lady Razorbacks won the tournament.

Monday's site was not supposed to be announced until after Friday's game, but ASU athletic director Dean Lee revealed it during a statewide radio talk show before the UNLV-UA game.

Lewis then talked freely with reporters at the UNLV-UA game about the situation.

"This is what you run into with the WNIT sometimes," Lewis said. "It just seemed unreasonable for us to bid more than $28,000. That's about what we pay nonconference teams to play here during the season."

Lewis talked informally with UA President B. Alan Sugg, Chancellor John White and Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles before making her decision.

Broyles was at Augusta, Ga., on Friday, but had told Lewis beforehand that he understood that postseason situations were sometimes beyond an institution's control.

"I agonized about it this morning because you'd always like to have home advantage," Lewis said. "But I talked to (UA coach) Susie (Gardner) about it and she understood."

ASU (20-10) needed only a bid of $4,000 to secure its home game in the first round against Mississippi State, and its conditional bid for a UNLV-ASU game was similarly small.

Broyles' longtime stated UA policy of not playing against in-state teams except in tournaments is well known, and has mostly applied to women's sports also.

But the UA men's basketball team played ASU in the NIT in 1987, Nolan Richardson's second year as coach. The Razorbacks overcame a 23-point deficit to win that game 67-64 in Barnhill Arena. The two teams have not met since.

Gardner claimed not to know much about the ASU-UA background.

"I grew up in Tennessee," she kidded early in the week. "Ignorance is bliss, maybe."

The Lady'Backs (17-13) and Lady Indians have actually met seven times, but not since the 1982-83 season. Arkansas leads 5-2 in the series, which started in 1977-78, including an 80-47 win in their last meeting in 1982-83.

Lewis said if Arkansas advances to the third round of the WNIT she plans to bid on that home game and expects the cost to be a reasonable amount.

ASU drew about 2,800 fans for its 78-61 win over Mississippi State on Thursday night. Arkansas had 1,615 paying fans for its 61-48 win over UNLV. But the size of those two crowds was not a huge factor in the bidding for Monday's home game.

Fast Paced
The first half of Friday's game was wild and woolly at times, with perhaps the fastest pace of any Arkansas game this season.

Rochelle Vaughn had two of Arkansas' six first-half steals, including a late one that led to a layup and 34-22 halftime lead.

The Lady'Backs made 15 of 37 floor shots in the first 20 minutes, while UNLV made 10 of 28. Arkansas bothered the Lady Rebels into 14 turnovers while committing just four itself. But UNLV had a 16-12 rebounding edge in the first half.

Adrienne Bush and Sarah Pfeifer scored 10 points each for Arkansas in the first half.

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