Nate Allen Sports
FAYETTEVILLE – With Arkansas senior reserve guard Raven Northcross-Baker of Malvern especially shortening Vanderbilt’s short bench, the Razorbacks made short work of the visiting Commodores in Sunday’s SEC women’s basketball game at Walton Arena.
Arkansas jumped to a 21-9 lead for the 10-minute first quarter and mounted a 17-0 second-quarter run towards its 47-20 halftime lead and coasted to a 83-62 victory.
Sunday’s success advances Arkansas to 13-5 overall/ 2-2 in the SEC going into its next SEC game Jan. 21 at Tennessee on the SEC Network in Knoxville.
The Commodores currently run aground at 5-12, 0-4 and have lost six consecutively. Arkansas assured that outcome from the get-go.
“We got off to really hot start and that was key,” Arkansas Coach Mike Neighbors said. “It carried us through a couple of lulls you inevitably have.”
With Vandy consequentially relying on just seven players, and one of them played just eight minutes, Northcross-Baker’s season high 16 points contributed to a 33-2 Arkansas bench points advantage augmented by the Razorbacks outrebounding Vandy, 44-25 including 24 accounted by Razorbacks reserves Bailey Zimmerman, Rokia Doumbia, Taylah Thomas and Macy Weaver.
So even with Vandy starters Leala Carter scoring a game-high 20 with Mariella Fasoula scoring 16 and Cierra Walker, 10, the Commodores sunk in troubled waters.
“Vanderbilt has such a short bench,” Neighbors said. “It was imperative we play as fast as we can play to take advantage of that short bench. We got into our offense quicker than we had and we did a good taking away their inside attack. And we outrebounded our opponent which is rare for us and we took advantage of it.”
They also capitalized on Northcross-Baker hitting four of Arkansas’ 13 threes while starters Malica Monk, Kiera Williams, Chelsea Dungee and Conway’s Alexis Tolefree scored 15, 11, 10 and nine points.
“Raven got off a really hot start,” Neighbors said. “Raven can hit 4 or 5 in a row which really stretches things out and hat leads to her being a better defender which we saw today as well.”
Northcross-Baker said her off the bench role against Vandy became a void filler.
“ I keep a positive mindset,” Northcross-Baker said. “I know my teammates can score but when they have an off night like some did tonight (season-leading scorer Dungee and No..4 scorer Jailyn Mason only hit a combined 5 of 17 shots Sunday) it’s my job to bring energy and make shots. Energy, that’s what the bench is about.”
Nate Allen Sports