FAYETTEVILLE – Proving more than up to its SEC part of the SEC/Big 12 Women’s Basketball Challenge, Coach Mike
Coach Mike Neighbors nationally 16th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks upset the the nationally fourth-ranked reigning national champion Baylor Lady Bears 83-78 Sunday evening at Walton Arena.
“Everybody came together,” Neighbors said,. “And you’ve got to do that any time you knock off a team that’s got defending national champions after it.”
Amber Ramirez’s 23 points, and Chelsea Dungee, 22 despite playing through foul trouble, Marquesha Daniels, 16 points and Destiny Slocum, 14 points led Arkansas’ scoring against three-time national champion Coach Kim Mulkey’s Lady Bears renowned for their defense.
Arkansas got some big defensive help off the bench from guards Marquesha Davis, four steals while scoring eight points, and Jailyn Mason and an unsung but vital effort from center Taylah Thomas joining the guards inducing Baylor center Queen Egbo into foul trouble.
Egbo grabbed seven rebounds but only played 11 minutes fouling out fouling Thomas with 9:11 left in the game.
“That was on Taylah Thomas,” Ramirez said. “Taylah got a lot of offensive fouls on Queen. She did a great job battling her and attacking her offensively and our guards did a great job all getting downhill but the majority of it was Taylah Thomas.”
His guards also prompted Egbo’s exit, Neighbors said.
“I got a really good friend that coaches at South Florida (losing a close 67-62 game to Baylor earlier this season) and they did a really good job of taking it her off the bounce. I felt if we get her in a lot of ball screens and our guards did a good job of getting into her body. An All-American candidate like that and she only plays 10 minutes that was massive. And that made them play out of position. Chelsea got in early foul trouble but she’s used to playing though fouls. She’s good at it and I’m learning Slocum can do it.”
Though Egbo was off her game, Baylor’s Didi Carrington led all scorers with 24 points while Nlyssa Smith scored 16 and Moon Ursin 14 for the Lady Bears.
The lead swung back and fourth throughout until Arkansas’ 13-3 third quarter run.
Baylor came back to cut it close but Arkansas thrived on the free throw line, 30 of 39 including Dungee’s 10 of 12 and Makayla Daniels 5 for 5.
However in the final 3:20 Dungee missed 1 of 2, Slocum missed a pair, and Ramirez 1 of 2 before Ramirez’s two free throws with 10 seconds left moved the 81-78 score to the final 83-78 out of Baylor’s reach.
“Beating the No. 4 team in the country that’s huge for us,” Ramirez said. “This win was great for us and great for our confidence.”
To Neighbors, beating Baylor is so significant that the team won’t be told Monday to start thinking about Wednesday’s game at SMU.
“I told them that 24- rule doesn’t apply with games like this,” Neighbors said. “We got tomorrow off so this is a 48-hour rule. You have to celebrate these things. Because it could be over tomorrow. We learned that last year (with Covid-19 shutting down last season NCAA Women’s and NCAA’s Basketball Tournament). You have to celebrate these things while you can.”
Arkansas takes a 5-1 record into its Wednesday nonconference game at SMU in Dallas.
Baylor falls to 2-1.