Second half slump costs Middle Tennessee in road game
Blue Raiders place two in double figuresNovember 21, 2010 · Athletic Communications
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Arkansas outscored Middle Tennessee 18-0 over the final eight minutes to pull away from a close game and earn a 77-50 victory Sunday afternoon inside the Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark. The Razorbacks turned the game around on the glass after trailing in the statistic early, to finish with a 38-to-27 rebounding edge as the Blue Raider shooters went cold in the final 20 minutes, connecting on just 29.0 percent of their attempts.
Sophomore Icelyn Elie led the Middle Tennessee offense with a career-high 15 points, draining six field goals and converting all three of her free throws. Senior Anne Marie Lanning was the only other reliable offensive threat, burying all four of her 3-pointers on her way to 14 points and playing all 40 minutes for the second time on the young Blue Raider season.
Arkansas placed four players in double figures, led by C'eira Ricketts' 20 points on 7-of-11 field goals and 5-of-5 free throws. Ashley Daniels and Keira Peak each chipped in 14 points, while the team's leading scorer coming in, Lyndsay Harris, finished with a dozen.
The Razorbacks jumped out in front early in part to an 8-0 run, reclaiming the lead it held to start the game. Junior Tina Stewart helped put Middle Tennessee on top 8-4 by connecting on her first two shots from behind the 3-point arc, but Arkansas responded with the spurt over the next four minutes as Lyndsay Harris tallied four straight to put the hosts up, 12-9, with 11:29 remaining in the first half.
By the next media timeout, at 7:02, the Blue Raiders had retaken the lead, 18-17. Lanning opened the stretch with a 3-pointer at 9:02, the first MT field goal in over six minutes, and then sophomore Jamila Ajanaku stole a pass in the Arkansas end and took it straight to the hoop for a layup, cutting the lead to 15-14. Following a Chrisstasia Walter jumper, Elie and Lanning each added baskets to move ahead by one.
The back-and-forth affair continued over the next three minutes. Lanning continued to torch the nets, hitting a pair of transition triples on consecutive trips down the floor, but Ricketts tallied eight consecutive Razorback points to put Arkansas (4-0) ahead, 25-24, with 3:50 to play.
Ricketts then continued her strong play, nailing a 3-pointer after sophomore Kortni Jones had tied the game 25-25 to ignite an 11-4 run to close the half, as Elie was the only Middle Tennessee (2-1) player to score again before the intermission. The Razorbacks used a 9-of-12 outing from the foul line during the opening 20 minutes to help build the seven point, 36-29, halftime cushion.
Elie exerted control early in the second half, registering nine-straight Blue Raider points, as MT closed within two, 43-41, at 15:40. Stewart had started the period the same way she opened the game, nailing a triple, before Rowe added another bucket and Elie went on her own personal scoring run. Arkansas, however, countered with a Daniels layup and an old-fashioned three-point play from Ricketts to push the lead back to seven, 48-41.
Yashira Delgado two of the Razorbacks' next three buckets and Harris added a top-of-the-key 3-pointer at 9:38 to extend the margin to 12, 57-45. Lanning answered with a trey of her own on the next Middle Tennessee possession but the teams continued to trade points and UA held a 61-50 edge at the under-eight media timeout as Rowe netted MT's final points on a jumper just before the break.
Peak poured in the next eight points, including a triple and an old-fashioned three-point play, widening the margin to 19, 69-50, with 4:31 left.
As the Middle Tennessee offense struggled to find consistency, Arkansas took advantage on a pair of layups, a set of free throws and a jumper to decide the final outcome.
Daniels set the tone on the glass, topping all players with eight caroms, while Rowe and KeKe Stewart hauled in a MT-high six boards apiece.
The Blue Raiders will return to action inside the friendly confines of Murphy Center at 7 p.m. Friday against in-state foe ETSU, a squad which reached the NCAA Tournament last March.
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