Surprise! Arkansas Women’s Teams Advance in Women’s NCAA Tournament


Arkansas Razorbacks Face Baylor Today in Waco for Women’s NCAA Tournament Game

UALR Trojans Take on the Sun Devils in Tempe Tomorrow Night

TEMPE, Ariz. – Behind a heroic offensive display from seniors Taylor Gault and Kiera Clark, The No. 11 seed UALR women’s basketball team pulled off the upset on Saturday afternoon, defeating No. 6 seed Texas A&M 69-60 at Wells Fargo Arena in the NCAA Tournament’s First Round.

Coach Joe Foley got his 700th career victory with the win, which equaled UALR’s farthest-ever advancement in the NCAA Tournament. UALR last made it to the NCAA Second Round in 2010, also as a No. 11 seed with a win over No. 6 seed Georgia Tech. The 2015 team will play either No. 3 seed and host Arizona State on Monday at 8 p.m. CST.

“It’s unbelievable, playing against a friend,” Foley said. “Playing in an NCAA tournament. It was fun. And to play as well as we did. We played great, and we deserved it. And I’m proud of our kids.”

Gault led the offense with a season-high 25 points, and classmate Clark had a career-best 22 points while putting up a season-best 12 rebounds for her second double-double of the year. Senior Ka’Nesheia Cobbins played 38 minutes and tied for the team lead with four assists in what could have been the final game of her career.

Gault shot 5 of 7 from 3-point range and 10 of 17 overall from the field as the team made 52 percent of its baskets in the second half. Her five 3-pointers tied a career high, and her 74.1 percent shooting from behind the arc was tied for the seventh-highest 3-point percentage in the preliminary rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Clark was 8 of 16 from the field and took a career-best 10 free throws total.

“We came into the game, like this is all or nothing,” Clark said. “This might be our last game, what did we have to lose? So we just locked in and had a great game.”

The Trojans’ passing was as good at it had been all year, and the team finished with 20 assists. Six players on the roster had at least three assists each. Cobbins, Gault and Alexius Dawn had four apiece while Shanity James, Alexius Dawn and Clark had three assists.

UALR (29-4) got its first win over Texas A&M (23-10) since 2001, and the victory was Foley’s first against good friend and Aggies coach Gary Blair. Texas A&M is the second team from the Southeastern Conference that UALR has beaten this year. The Trojans took down then-No. 24 LSU in both teams’ season opener in November.

The Trojans also broke their own school record for wins in a season on Saturday with 29, and the team is on a six-game winning streak overall.

Though UALR came into the game as underdogs, the team certainly didn’t play like it. The Trojans led for 32 minutes out of 40 and for all of the first half but the final 11 seconds. After leading 27-19, UALR allowed the Aggies to go on a 9-0 run entering the break and take a 28-27 lead.

That Texas A&M advantage would prove to be short-lived.

The Trojans made the deficit up quickly to start the second half, scoring 7 points to Texas A&M’s 6 in the first four minutes. Knotted up at 34-34, the game suddenly went UALR’s way. The Trojans went on a 6-0 run to force an Aggies timeout, with Gault, Cobbins and James getting the UALR baskets.

UALR never trailed again, though the Aggies certainly made things interesting. Texas A&M got within 2 points at 48-46 with 8:13 to play, but Dawn answered immediately with her only 3-pointer of the game to make it a 5-point lead once again. Gault had a 3-pointer for the team’s next basket, and that gave UALR a 56-50 lead with 5:28 to play.

“She’s done it over and over,” Foley said of Gault. “But under this situation and the game we’re in today, the pressure, I mean she’s got ice in her veins. It’s unbelievable what she does.”

The Trojans’ lead was never smaller than 5 points after that. With two minutes to play, A&M began to foul Trojan shooters. The team made 8 of its final 12 attempts from the charity stripe, and the Aggies went cold from the field as UALR clinched the victory. Texas A&M missed nine of its last 10 shots from the field over the final 2:40 of the game.

After Gault and Clark, Pratt and Dawn were the Trojans’ next-best offensive players. They each scored 6 points on the night, and James and Cobbins added 4 each. Cobbins had the second-most rebounds on the team with six while James and Pratt had four. Gault led the team in steals with three, and James and Clark each had a block.

The Trojans’ afternoon began very well, with the team hitting three of its first four shots from the field. Gault opened the contest with a long jumper, and the team had a 3-0 lead after Clark hit a free throw. Clark then added a jumper and Gault got a jumper of her own to give the team a 7-4 lead. The Aggies got it tied though with three straight points heading into the first media timeout.

Gault and Clark continued to supply the Trojans’ offense over the next four minutes, with Gault draining a 3-pointer and a pretty fadeaway jumper and Clark hitting another jumper herself. That gave the team a 16-12 lead entering the second media break, with Gault and Clark going a combined 7 of 8 from the field.

I knew what I could do offensively and defensively,” Gault said. “That’s the thought I had was to shoot and drive and do whatever I knew I could do best for my team.”

Gault and Clark combined for 5 more quick points out of the media timeout, with Gault knocking down a 3-pointer and Clark sinking another long jumper. That forced A&M coach Gary Blair to call a timeout with the Trojans on a 7-0 run and leading 21-12. Gault had matched the Aggies’ 12 points herself. A&M regroup after that, though, going on a 5-0 run to cut UALR’s lead to 4 points at the third media timeout.

The UALR offense went on a bit of a scoring drought at that point, not getting a basket for more than 3:30 as the Aggies got back into the game. But the Trojans finally answered after two Sharde’ Collins free throws, following those with a Pratt layup and a Gault jumper to make it a 27-19 lead.

But that was when the Aggies took over for the half. The Trojans did not score another basket in the final 4:56 of the frame, and Texas A&M went on a 9-0 run to close the half with a 28-27 lead, their first of the night. The Trojans had 14 points from Gault and 9 from Clark at the break, and Clark led all players with six rebounds.

“At any point in the game I just know we’re going to leave our heart on the court,” Cobbins said. “And I just know that we’re not going to leave that court without a fight. And so I wasn’t too much worried about [Texas A&M’s run] at all, because I know what our team is made of and the kind of people we are on the court.”

UALR now moves on to the NCAA Tournament’s second round. There, the Trojans will the host Sun Devils. That second-round matchup will be played on Monday at 8 p.m. central time on ESPN2.

* * *

WACO, Texas – Junior Melissa Wolff scored 13 points and grabbed 15 rebounds leading the University of Arkansas to a 57-55 win over Northwestern in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Waco, Texas, Friday.

Arkansas closed the game on a 22-7 run and held the Wildcats without a basket for almost four minutes at the end of the contest.

Sophomore Kelsey Brooks paced Arkansas with 15 points and six boards while Jessica Jackson added 14 points and eight rebounds.  Jhasmin Bowen also scored in double figures with 12 points.  Wolff’s double-double was the eight of her career and Arkansas is 7-1 when she records a double-double.

Northwestern jumped out to a 13 point lead late in the second half and Arkansas seemed to be struggling from the floor.  The Razorbacks used their defense to make the comeback slowing down the Wildcats scoring while chipping away at the lead.

NU was up four, 51-55, at the 3:59 mark and Arkansas shutdown their offense from that point on.  Brooks got a steal and a layup cutting the lead to two and Wolff followed with a steal and Bowen converted on the jumper to tie the game at 55 with 1:14 to play.  It was the seventh tie of the contest.

NU missed its next opportunity and Jackson grabbed the rebound, She was fouled with: 29 seconds to play and hit one of the two bonus shots giving the Razorbacks the lead.

Wolff came down with the biggest rebound of the game and was pinned along the sideline but wisely called the timeout to save the possession.

NU came out of the break and had to foul Arkansas but the Razorbacks missed the free throw with just: 22 seconds left in the game.

NU turned the ball over on its trip down the floor and was again forced to foul Arkansas.  Brooks hit one of two with: 02 seconds to go as the Razorbacks held on for the lead.

Arkansas shot 31.8 percent from the floor and went 11-for-19 from the line.  The Wildcats shot 44.9 percent and committed 19 turnovers in the loss.

Arkansas faces the winner of the Baylor/Northwestern State in NCAA Tournament second round action Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.
* This is Arkansas’ 10th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history
* The Razorbacks are 13-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament
* Arkansas has won nine consecutive first-round games
* The last loss in the first round was in 1989 at No. 5 Purdue
* Arkansas is 2-2 in the state of Texas in the NCAA Tournament
* Arkansas has faced 12 teams in the NCAA Tournament playing to a 5-9 record (before today)
* Arkansas has faced six teams who are in the WNIT with a 6-2 record

* Arkansas trailed by as many as 13 in the second half
* Arkansas held NU to 55 points – more than 20 points below its season average
* Arkansas outrebounded NU 42-37
* Arkansas held NU for the final 3:59 without a field goal

* Freshman McKinley Bostad was the first player off the bench for Arkansas at the 11:46 mark
* Arkansas did not score a bench point and NU only had four bench points

Senior Calli Berna
* Scored three points and has 736 career points ranking 40th
* Grabbed five rebounds and has 506 career rebounds ranking 23rd
* Dished out six assists and has 659 career assists ranking second
* Had two steals and has 223 career steals ranking fourth
Sophomore Jessica Jackson
* Scored 14 points and has 947 career points ranking 28th
* Scored in double figures for the 24th this year, the 11th consecutive game and the 50th time in her career
Senior Jhasmin Bowen
* Scored 12 points and has 854 career points ranking 33rd
* Grabbed three rebounds and has 495 career rebounds ranking tied for 27th
Junior Melissa Wolff
* Scored 13 points and had 15 rebounds
* It is her eighth double-double
* Arkansas is 7-1 when Wolff has a double-double

arkansas teams surprise in Women's NCAA Tournament


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