ST. THOMAS, USVI – The Arkansas women’s basketball team (6-0) took a tough win over Northern Arizona (3-3) in the first of three games at Paradise Jam. The NAU took the lead for 10 minutes in the first half, but after Arkansas thrashed 12-0 before halftime, the Razorbacks never looked back. Samara Spencer was a big part of the Sharp Backs’ success, scoring a career-high 27 points after 10 field goals. With an 82-73 win, head coach Mike Neighbors scored his 200th career win.
The Sharp Backs failed to capitalize on the first two possessions, but a three-pointer from Sailor Poffenbarger put Arkansas on the board. The game was tied 7-7 with 6:01 left, but Spencer hit a 3-pointer to put the Razorbacks back up one, 10-9. The NAU then went on to go 7–2, with Arkansas trailing 16–12 on a media timeout with 3:37 left in the first quarter. Arkansas began to heat up thanks to a huge thank you from Makayle Daniels, whose three-point play put the Razorbacks back 17-16 ahead. The Razorbacks had a 20-18 lead after the first 10 minutes of play.
NAU regained the lead with a three-pointer and made another on the next possession to regain the lead by four. Poffenbarger continued to play both ends of the court with a spin to the basket while the Razorbacks trailed 26-24 midway through the second quarter. Spencer’s trio gave the Razorbacks a 31–29 lead with just over two minutes left in the game. The Razorbacks kept cruising with Poffenbarger’s 3-pointer and Spencer’s layup just before the buzzer sounded. Arkansas trailed for most of the second quarter but closed the frame 12-0 to take a 38-29 lead in the half.
Lumberjacks left the locker room with a score of 5:0. Erinn Barnum gave the Razorbacks the first basket after the downtime. Arkansas then went ahead 8–2. NAU didn’t back down and knocked down a three-pointer, cutting Razorback’s lead to seven. In a media timeout, Arkansas had a 48–39 lead. Arkansas took a 20-point lead after Maryam Dowd’s layup and free throw. NAU converted a three-pointer and finished third as the Razorbacks were ahead, 61–46 after 30 minutes of play.
Spencer was unstoppable in the paint as the layup brought her to 20 points for her second top 20 of the season. Arkansas led 65-51 minutes into the fourth quarter. A NAU 3-pointer helped the Lumberjacks get to eight, but Spencer’s 3-pointer pushed the Razorbacks up by double figures. The NAU lost another 3-pointer, cutting Arkansas’ lead to seven in just under seven minutes of play. Barnum got a layup and Spencer followed up with another layup for 27 points with Arkansas leading by 12 with 1:29 left in the game. After NAU cut the lead back to single digits again, Arkansas grabbed the stretch with 5 of 6 shots from the line in the final minute. Arkansas pulled away with an 82-73 win.
Tomorrow, Arkansas will take over the late shift at Paradise Jam as the team is due to play Clemson at 7:00 pm CET, 9:00 am local time. Coverage of this game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
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