Lady'Backs Hold Off UNLV

FAYETTEVILLE -- Sarah Pfeifer not only scored 16 points to lead Arkansas past Nevada-Las Vegas 61-48 in the first round of the WNIT on Friday night, but also won a friendly bet with teammate Adrienne Bush when the first postgame question dealt with second-round UA opponent Arkansas State.

"Told you!" Pfeifer said as she slapped hands with Bush, who scored 12 points and played the best game of her UA career.

The Lady Razorbacks (17-13) had just learned after the game that they would meet ASU (20-10) in Jonesboro at 7 p.m. Monday.

"That's an exciting game for all the fans in the state of Arkansas," Bush said. "It's very intriguing. We'll have some fans from eastern Arkansas, so it will be like Texas-Oklahoma -- a house divided."

Pfeifer said, "It was extra motivation to win this (UNLV) game, because I wanted to play 'em (Arkansas State). I know (Lady Indians) Allie Carter of Pocahontas and Katie Caraway of Mount Pleasant, and I have some family in Trumann, 20 minutes from Jonesboro, who haven't seen me play since I was a freshman."

Arkansas coach Susie Gardner, not wishing to provide ASU any more incentive than it already has, said later, "Sarah gets excited about a lot of things. She's an Arkansan. But sometimes you have to take what she says with a grain of salt."

Both Gardner and UNLV coach Regina Miller, however, pointed to Pfeifer's back-to-back baskets late in Friday's game as the key plays.

The Lady Rebels (16-15) had battled back from a 34-22 halftime deficit to within 48-45 with 5 minutes, 24 seconds left, mostly with heightened defensive pressure that caused 16 Lady'Backs turnovers in the second half.

But Kristin Peoples (four points, seven assists) sank two free throws for Arkansas and then Pfeifer hit two of her patented jumpers in the lane to keep UNLV at bay, 54-46.

Miller said, "We knew Arkansas would be physical and aggressive, and Pfeifer got a couple of clean looks. She made some plays during our run. Good players make plays."

Pfeifer said Arkansas had practiced for UNLV's trapping defense and 2-3 zone, but she credited the Lady Rebels with getting up in the Lady'Backs' faces in the second half.

"When I made those two shots, my shoulder was hurting real bad so I just prayed them in there," Pfeifer said. "That turned the tide and momentum, and we were good to go."

RanDee Henry led UNLV with 17 points, nine rebounds, while guard Sheena Moore also nearly double-doubled with 11 points, nine rebounds.

Bush gave credit for her 12 points to Hog Heaven friend Robert Mann, who encouraged her while she signed an autograph before the game.

"I told him I was going to score 30 points," joked Bush, who entered the game averaging just 3.3.

Bush took four of Arkansas' season-high eight charges, including one just after her runner in the lane had given the Lady'Backs a 23-16 lead. Soon the crowd of 1,615 in Bud Walton Arena was on its feet calling the Hogs spontaneously.

Pfeifer hopes for some friendly faces in Jonesboro among the ASU throng.

"I know we have great fan support all over the state," Pfeifer said. "I've watched high school tournaments at ASU."

Bush reminded, "We've played in some hostile environments at Tennessee, Vanderbilt and LSU."

Both Bush and Pfeifer expressed respect for ASU.

"They won 20 games, and you don't win 20 games if you're not good," Bush said. "They're legit."

Pfeifer added, "ASU has played well against some good teams, and they beat a ranked team (TCU)."

Gardner sought to play down the state-rivalry aspect.

"I'm sorry, but I don't have any emotions (about ASU) because I haven't been here long enough," she said. "Brian Boyer, their coach, is a class person that I've sat next to a couple of times and he does a great job with their program."

Gardner reminded, "There are Razorback fans throughout the state, if I'm not mistaken, and they'll get a chance to see us as well."

Miller said UNLV took Arkansas out of its rhythm in the second half Friday and gave itself a chance to win, but that Henry's fourth foul hurt the Lady Rebs.

Gardner said, "Our first pass in the second half went through Bush's legs, and then we flew one over everything. I said, 'OK, y'all, it;'s just a zone.' UNLV did hurt us with dribble penetration and (15) offensive rebounds. But Rochelle Vaughn hit a 3 and calmed us down."

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