BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
It seems fitting that the women’s college basketball game between Arkansas and visiting Alabama ended on a turnover.
Because that is one of the things that Razorback head coach Mike Neighbors will remember the most from his team’s 69-66 loss Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena.
Right after Alabama’s Hannah Barber hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to give her team the lead, Arkansas suffered its 20th turnover of the night and failed to get off a game-tying shot as time ran out.
“I don’t have a lot of answers for you,” Neighbors said. “I have never been good at telling you what I think I saw because I am always wrong when I go back and watch film.
“But the number one number that is going to jump out to me all night long is 20 turnovers in a low possession game and 17 of them by people who normally turn it over a combination of seven or eight times a game. So almost double.”
The Razorbacks rallied from a 12-point deficit to tie the game 66-66 on Makayla Daniels’ 3-pointer with 34 seconds left.
“Man, you thought get this to overtime and we have the momentum and the crowd is there,” Neighbors said.
Instead Barber not only hit her shot for Alabama (16-5, 5-3), but came up with a steal as Arkansas tried to get a second shot off in the final eight seconds.
“I thought we had a good idea of what the play was and I thought we ran to contact, but we didn’t get it defended,” Neighbors said of Barber’s shot.
“Hannah Barber – I think she is the most undervalued player in this conference. I mean if there is ever a basketball Moneybag movie, she’s Kevin Youkalis or whoever it was in that movie. She just runs her team, she gets them in the right spot She was talking and then it was her that hit that big shot.”
Erynn Barnum had 20 points to lead Arkansas (17-6, 4-4) while Daniels added 13 and Samara Spencer and Saylor Poffenbarger 12 and Chrissy Carr 8.
Brittany Davis’ 22 points led Alabama while Jamar Rice had 12 and Barber 8.
The loss was the third in a row for the Razorbacks, who lost at No. 3 LSU (79-76) and at No. 1 South Carolina (92-46) last week.
“I am not going to use it as an excuse, but we do have a little bit of hangover from last week,” Neighbors said. “There is no question about it. I am not going to let our kids get beat down without making that point. That is not an excuse, that is a reason. It was a hard week, but that is what this league does to you and it is what you sign up for in this league.”
Arkansas will host Ole Miss Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.
“We have to figure out why because we can not win another game on our schedule if we turn it over a third of the time that we the ball,” Neighbors said.
“We are not built defensively to get enough stops, we are not built to out-rebound people to overcome that. We are built to be a strong ball handling team, a take care of the ball team and tonight we were not.
“They had 14 steals. Not just turnovers, they were steals. That’s a lot of combinations – ball management, passing it at the wrong time, off-target, travels, just a number of things.
It was a match up of two teams tied for fifth place in the SEC race behind a trio of unbeatens in South Carolina, LSU and Tennessee and Ole Miss.
“Probably what you would expect out of a game with two teams that are so closely matched, similar spots in the standings, similar team make ups,” Neighbors said. “It obviously came down to one team making big plays and the other one not. That was us tonight.”
Photo by John D. James