Nate Allen Sports
FAYETTEVILLE – For a half it seemed neither the Arkansas Razorbacks nor the Prairie View A&M Lady Panthers deserved a shot at winning their women’s basketball game Sunday at Walton Arena.
But after shooting only 6 of 35 from the first half field and being outrebounded, 19-11 in the first quarter, Arkansas shot 19 of 41 for the second half, outrebounded Prairie View, 64-46 for the game and posted a 71-44 rout after trailing 18-13 after the first quarter and leading only 26-22 at intermission.
Senior forward just last Saturday become UA grad Bailey Zimmerman rebounded the Razorbacks from their first-quarter abyss by grabbing 11 rebounds for the game while starting junior center Kiara Williams nailed 10 boards.
Arkansas Coach Mike Neighbors, his Razorbacks now 8-3 heading into hosting Nebraska Tuesday night at Walton, said had an inkling that rebounding would be a key and shooting not sharp in the Razorbacks’ first game since their Dec. 8 victory at Abilene Christian followed by last week’s UA final exams before Zimmerman of St. Vincent and guard Malica Monk of North Little Rock walked in last Saturday’s UA Commencement.
“You don’t ever come into the game after finals expecting 100 percent execution and 100 percent focus and energy use,” Neighbors said. “If you expect, that you are setting yourself for failure.”
Neighbors said he was “concerned that they (the Lady Panthers) seemed the aggressor early and “we challenged them on that.”
“Other than that, after the first quarter our players took it on themselves to fix a lot of problems,” Neighbors said. “Our second half was more like the team we’ve been seeing. I think they played really well from the middle of the second quarter on.”
With all the missed shots, underdog Prairie View of the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) shot 10 of 41 for the first half and 18 for 72 for the game, there was much rebounding to be done.
Neighbors said whenever the role is rebounding that Zimmerman answers the call.
“She knows her role as well any kid I’ve coached in 19 years,” Neighbors said. “She knows what she’s going in there to do. She has a team first thought as any kid I’ve ever coached. For her to do it again night after night and for her and Mal to graduate in three and a half years, that was a good thing for her to have a good day today.”
Zimmerman noted energy was up during the stretch with most finishing their finals before Thursday’s last day of the week-long exam period but it emotions kind of flattened thereafter plus her own attention to the graduation ceremony.
“We came out pretty slow but we bounced back,” Zimmerman said. “Me and Kiara got our rebounds and in the second half we pushed the ball up the court and finished strong.”
Williams of Little Rock Central who blocked three shots, said with all the missed shots, that “rebounding was the big key to helping us win this game.”
Arkansas reserve forward Taylah Thomas, 5 of 9 from the field with seven rebounds, led all scorers with her 11 points marking the only individual tallying double-digits tally on either team.
Artavia Ford’s eight points led Prairie View, now 3-5.
While Arkansas’ inside shooting improved vastly the second half the Razorbacks’ 3-point shooting was nearly equally abysmal, 1 for 12 the first half and 2 for 11 the second half.
“We’re going to have shoot better than 3 for 23 to beat anybody remaining on our schedule,” Neighbors said.
Obviously that starts with Big Ten power Nebraska, only 5-5 but winning its last three over Kansas, San Jose State and Denver, visiting Walton for Tuesday’s 7 p.m. game.
“Nebraska was a NCAA Tournament team last year and returns a large portion of their offense,” Neighbors said. “They have a 6-5 kid (senior center Kate Cain) that tries to shoot it over the top of you and we don’t have an answer for that right now. Their record is a little unreflective of how good they’ve played because they’ve played some of the the top teams in the country (including No. 4 Louisville, No. 24 Miami, and receiving Top 25 votes Drake). It will take a top effort from all of our kids because we’ll be a massive underdog. That’s why we subbed early tonight and played nobody longer than 27 minutes.”
Editor’s Note: SWARK Today is proud to present post-game coverage of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks sports with the Nate Allen Sports Service of Fayetteville. SWARK Today is your local source for Razorback athletics including 2018-19 men’s and women’s basketball.
Nate Allen Sports