5 Hogs score in double figures vs. Sugar Bears
FAYETTEVILLE — All five starters for the Arkansas women’s basketball team scored in double figures and the Razorbacks improved to 5-0 heading into the Fort Myers (Fla.) Tip-Off with an 81-67 victory over Central Arkansas on Monday night at Bud Walton Arena. Saylor Poffenbarger and Taliah Scott tied for a gamehigh 17 points and Samara Spencer added 16 points to lead Arkansas, which shot 26 of 59 (44.1%). Maryam Dauda (14 points) and Makayla Daniels (11 points) rounded out the double-digit scoring. It was the first time this season the Razorbacks have had more than four players score at least 10 points. “With that group, I was really, really pleased with how we managed it [and] how we attacked,” Arkansas Coach Mike Neighbors said. “The balance is when we’re at our best. “I know that we’ve got that, but it’s good to see it on display in one of these [games].” Poffenbarger entered the game leading Division I in defensive rebounding (11.5 per game) but showcased her offensive abilities. She was 6 of 10 from the floor — including 3 of 4 from threepoint range — and logged a season-high scoring. “I put in a lot of work to my shot,” Poffenbarger said, “and sometimes when I come [into] the game, I think a lot. Just taking that aspect out of it and trying my best [to focus mainly] on defense allows me to take the pressure off the offensive end. “I think going into the season, focusing on rebounding has helped because I don’t put a pressure on offense and I kind of do what comes in the flow.” Spencer attacked matchups she felt comfortable with and made multiple driving layups. She was 2 of 4 from beyond the arc and made all 4 foul shots. “As a lot of people know, we have three very fast guards,” Spencer said, referencing herself, Daniels and Scott. “A lot of teams have to choose which one of their fastest people they’re going to put on one of our fastest guards. “That kind of leaves an advantage for the person who doesn’t have the fast person, so I took advantage of the fact that I didn’t have somebody who I felt was able to guard me on me, and I capitalized.” UCA (2-2) fell behind by as many as 20 points in the second quarter but used a 12-0 run over the final 3 minutes of the first half to draw within 41-33 at halftime. It was an encouraging sight for first-year Sugar Bears Coach Tony Kemper, who took over after six years at Marshall. “You have to weather the storm when you play them,” Kemper said. “I mean, they’re going to fire enough shots that you’re going to face runs. I told our team that we were going to use some timeouts to try to mess with rhythm whenever they got it, so we used some to really try to change what they had going on. “I thought at the end of the second quarter we moved the ball so much better, our decision-making was really good and we took some easy plays.” Arkansas, which celebrated Native American Heritage Appreciation Month by wearing turquoise jerseys, used a 21-10 run in the third quarter to regain a firm advantage in the game. UCA was not closer than 13 points in the fourth quarter. Kemper said teams must “pick their poison” against the Razorbacks and credited a pair of Arkansas players for capitalizing when given open looks. “Poffenbarger and Dauda shot the heck out of it,” Kemper said. “You know, they made six threes between them. It is what it is. They’re capable of doing that, but you have to decide who you’re going to try to let beat you. And then they did. You run the risk of that happening and hats off to them for doing it.” Dauda recorded her second consecutive game with 3 three-pointers and had a teambest eight rebounds. The redshirt sophomore from Bentonville has averaged 13.3 points over the past three games after scoring a combined seven points in the opening two games. Arkansas was 9 of 24 from three-point range. The 37.5% shooting from deep was the Razorbacks’ best percentage of the season. “Our shot selection has been a lot better,” Neighbors said. “These last two games. I think Maryam is now 6 for her last 12… And you know [with] Saylor we all know how well she shoots it in practice. It was good to see that happen in a game. I think we can still shoot it better.” Jade Upshaw had a teamhigh 16 points for UCA on 6-of13 shooting. Randrea Wright (14 points), Kinley Fisher (11) and Bree Stephens (10) rounded out the Sugar Bears’ double-digit scorers. UCA was 23 of 55 (41.8%) from the floor and 11 of 13 (84.6%) from the foul line. It is the third time in the past five years Arkansas has started a season 5-0. Neighbors, in his seventh season, matched Gary Blair (1993-03) and Tom Collen (2008-14) for most 5-0 starts by an Arkansas coach. Arkansas is scheduled to play Wisconsin at 1 p.m. Central on Friday at the Fort Myers Tip-Off. The Razorbacks are scheduled to play again Saturday against either Marquette or Boston College. UCA is scheduled to play at Denver at 2 p.m. Friday. The Sugar Bears will play Nevada in their second game in the Denver Classic at noon Saturday.