Nate Allen Sports
FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas turned over the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles so often in the 38-23 first half that ORU couldn’t turn the women’s game around in the second half that Arkansas won, 74-61 Wednesday night at Walton Arena.
Only shooting 23 of 66 from the field, Coach Mike Neighbors’ Razorbacks improved to 5-2 and dropped ORU to 3-5 by starting with a 17-2 first-half points off turnover cushion.
Arkansas inflated its 15 first-half points off turnovers cushion by forcing 12 ORU first-half turnovers while committing six.
“That was huge,” Neighbors said. “We got our hands in the passing lanes and got in the bonus (for the game Arkansas made 24 of 29 free throws to ORU’s 14 of 18) early in the first half. Defense led to offense tonight. They were sending four people back in transition defense as soon as a shot went up but when you get a live ball turnover it’s hard for them to get back.”
Also Neighbors said his Razorbacks “followed their game plan” defending ORU’s 3-point shooters allowing only four ORU first half attempts.
“The game plan was not allowing them even to attempt threes even if it meant sacrificing a few twos around the basket,” Neighbors said. “Certainly didn’t want (Lakota) Beatty ( 1 for 1 for ORU on treys) or (Rylie) Torrey (0 for 5 on ORU treys) to get going. They only attempted four in the first half and one of them was at the buzzer.”
ORU hit 2 of 4 treys for the first half and 5 of 18 for the game allowing Arkansas to live with only hitting 4 of 20 of its treys. Arkansas’ Chelsea Dungee shot 0 for 5 on treys yet led Arkansas with 21 points hitting 7 of 12 twos and a perfect 7 for 7 free throws.
Senior guard Malica Monk of North Little Rock scored 17 while junior guard Jailyn Mason scored 12 with six rebounds.
Center Kiara Williams led Arkansas with 11 rebounds.
“A little funky offensively for us but a lot of that had to do with their defense,” Neighbors said. “They’ve been to Kansas and to Iowa, two tough places to play, and for us to get off to a good start was really big. We withstood a little bit of a lull in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter and then finished strong.”
ORU’s KeniJIo Lippe led all scorers with 23 points and Montserrat Brotons scored 16 for ORU.
Maya Mayberry, the daughter of former Razorbacks men’s team great and current ORU assistant coach Lee Mayberry, fouled out scoring seven points with three rebounds.
Neighbors especially lauded Mason whom the second-year coach inherited last season as a sophomore returning from former Arkansas Coach Jimmy Dykes’ final Razorbacks team.
“I affectionately call her a fungus because she just grows on you,” Neighbors said of admitting last season that he initially underrated Mason’s talent. “And like a fungus she spreads her impact a lot of ways during games.”
Dungee said the Razorbacks “played with energy” completing in a Sunday victory over Wisconsin completing three games in three days in the Music City Tournament in Nashville after defeating Tennessee State and losing to Pittsburgh and “picked up the same energy” starting against ORU.
Mason postgame said. “We took away their threes which is what they do and did what we are good at. And the turnovers we caused turned into points.”
Arkansas visits Iowa State, 5-1, Saturday in Ames, Iowa.
Nate Allen Sports