FAYETTEVILLE – Utah scored the game’s first 10 points in Friday’s NCAA Women’s Tournament Spokane Regional against Arkansas Friday and seldom looked back at the University of Texas’ Erwin Center in Austin.
The seventh-seeded Utes of the Pac 12 romped 92-69 eliminating the 10th-seeded Razorbacks in Thursday’s first round and advanced to Sunday’s second round against No. 2 seed Texas, a 70-52 winner Friday over Fairfield.
Coach Mike Neighbors’ young Razorbacks of the SEC conclude their season at 18-14. They went 7-9 in the rugged SEC and 1-1 in the SEC Tournament defeating Missouri in overtime before losing to nationally No. 1 South Carolina.
Amber Ramirez, their lone senior, led the Razorbacks and all scorers Friday with 24 points. Junior guard Makayla Daniels and freshman guard Samara Spencer scored 18 each in a losing cause.
Reserve Erynn Barnum, playing more than half the game with freshman starter Jersey Wolfenbarger injured during the first half, led Arkansas’ rebounding with 12.
Utah led by as much as 30 while nailing an incredible 15 of 31 3-pointers and dominating rebounding, 52-35.
Four Utes scored from 11 to Kennady McQueen’s 20 points.
McQueen hit 6 of 9 treys.
“I thought we ran into a really, really good team that played really, really well,” Arkansas Coach Mike Neighbors said. “They were very well prepared. I know everybody will want to talk about their offense, but I think their defense got us, taking some shots that were tough, that — they were physical with us, and when we didn’t respond offensively, I think it affected us defensively early. We got it back together, and then I thought we battled from there, but I just thought Utah was unbelievable today. They’ve got so many weapons. They can make you wrong for the slightest, slightest mistake.”
Ramirez and Daniels concurred.
“We knew they could shoot threes,” Ramirez said. “They moved the ball well. They got open looks. I mean, they made shots, so got to give credit to Utah for making shots. That’s really all I can speak on that is they made shots.”
And obviously made them early.
“I think we allowed them to set the tone before we got into a groove,” Daniels said. “And in these type of games, you kind of have to be the first person to set the tone. I think we allowed them to set the tone and they had the momentum pretty much the whole game. We went on runs, but again, just not enough runs to match their momentum.”
Daniels said the Utes shot threes like Ramirez multiplied.
“In my opinion, it’s kind of like playing against four or five Ambers and they just keep coming in,” Daniels said. “So it’s definitely hard just because you think you can slide through third on a screen and they’re going to make you pay every time. They’re not going to miss wide open. You make a mistake, they’re going to make you pay for it.”
Though flogged Friday, these young Razorbacks become Arkansas’ first women’s team to qualify for consecutive NCAA Tournaments since former Coach Tom Collen’s 2002 and 2003 teams.
“I won’t let it dampen the season that these two kids (Ramirez and Daniels) had and our whole team had,” Neighbors said. “We just got outplayed today, and that sometimes happens when you’re in the 7-10 game. Credit to Utah. I think they had a phenomenal season and a phenomenal game today. I’m super, super, duper proud of our kids for being here and playing in this thing again and especially these two to the right that have kind of been the backbone of what we’ve done for the last three years, going on four.”