Play­ing Hog Ball

Lady ‘Backs down Wild­cats in Chal­lenge

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - By Nate Allen Ra­zor­back Re­port

FAYETTEVIL­LE — Though smaller than four of Kansas State’s five starters, Arkansas guards Chelsea Dungee and Alexis Tole­free chopped the Wild­cats’ lit­er­ally big Big 12 vs SEC Chal­lenge down to the Ra­zor­backs’ 81-72 win­ning size Satur­day af­ter­noon at Wal­ton Arena.

Ju­nior 5-11 guard Dungee scored 32 points while 5-8 se­nior guard and for­mer Con­way Wam­pus Cat Tole­free scored 18 of her 21 points in the sec­ond half. They ad­vanced Coach Mike Neigh­bors na­tion­ally No. 23 Ra­zor­backs of the SEC to

8-1 go­ing into Wed­nes­day night’s game against Tulsa at Wal­ton Arena.

Neigh­bors noted it’s his first Arkansas first SEC tri­umph in the an­nual Big 12 Chal­lenge into now his third sea­son at the Arkansas helm.

“We fi­nally got a win in the SEC/BIG 12 Chal­lenge after not win­ning the last two,” Neigh­bors said. “A con­trast in styles with them bang­ing in­side and us shoot­ing from the perime­ter and we came up with enough stops to get it done.”

And ob­vi­ously, K-state Coach Jeff Mit­tie noted, more than enough points to get it done against his Wild­cats.

For­mer Arkansas State Coach Jeff Mit­tie’s Wild­cats fall to 4-4.

K-state starts 6-5 cen­ter Ayoka Lee and 6-4 for­ward

Pey­ton Wil­liams and two 6-1 guards match­ing 6-1 Tay­lah Thomas, Arkansas’ tallest starter.

Both dou­ble-dou­bling, Wil­liams, 19 points and 13 re­bounds, and Lee, 15 points and 14 re­bounds though run­ning into sec­ond-half foul trou­ble, cer­tainly played big with KSU dom­i­nat­ing the boards 48-29.

But with KSU top 3-point shoot­ers An­gela Har­ris, even while scor­ing 16 points, and Chris­tianna Carr a com­bined 2 of 13 on the Wild­cats’ 3 of 24 treys, the Wild­cats were strafed from afar.

Arkansas, 11 of 27 treys, outscored KSU 33-9 on 3-point­ers with Dungee 5 of 13 and Tole­free 4 of 7 with three crit­i­cal ones in the sec­ond half pulling Arkansas away after KSU’S one and only sec­ond-half lead, 42-41 at 6:40 in the third quar­ter.

Dungee’s 7 of 8 from the free-throw line led Arkansas’ 20 of 24 free throw shoot­ing com­pared to KSU’S 11 of 16.

Turnovers re­ally turned around K-state’s big re­bound­ing bulge into scant ad­van­tage. Com­mit­ting just nine turnovers to K-state’s 17, Arkansas outscored KSU 19-9 on points off turnovers.

Mit­tie wryly hinted that the Ra­zor­backs’ heads shouldn’t swell be­cause they plun­dered K-state.

“We’ve strug­gled with turnovers in an empty gym,” Mit­tie mused. “I don’t want to take away any­thing from any­body but we’ve strug­gled tak­ing care of the bas­ket­ball with no­body in the gym.”

He cer­tainly gave Dungee and Tole­free their due.

“Dungee is very tal­ented,” Mit­tie said. “I didn’t like the space we gave her (fre­quently foul­ing Dungee) in the sec­ond half and she rolls her way to the bas­ket and forces the of­fi­cials (to make a de­ci­sion).”

Asked what opened up her 18-point sec­ond half after scor­ing three in the first half, Tole­free replied with two words.

“Chelsea Dungee,” Tole­free said. “They were try­ing to guard Chelsea and I ended up get­ting open shots. I hap­pened to con­vert to­day.”

Tole­free didn’t give her­self enough credit, Mit­tie said.

“Dungee is ob­vi­ously tal­ented, but I think Tole­free in­di­vid­u­ally made some plays in that stretch,” Mit­tie said. “Tole­free re­ally mixed her game up well. She got the teardrop go­ing a lit­tle bit and got the deep three right in front of the bench. She re­ally got it go­ing.”

Dungee said, “When I drive and they col­lapse on me we’ve got great shoot­ers in Am­ber (Ramirez, scor­ing nine points Satur­day) and Lex. It def­i­nitely paid off.

Lex was shoot­ing the ball well in the sec­ond half.”

Neigh­bors, Dungee and Tole­free all cred­ited de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor’s Todd Schae­fer’s game plan in off­set­ting KSU’S ob­vi­ous re­bound­ing ad­van­tage with forc­ing turnovers.

“They had one true (Har­ris) point guard,” Tole­free said. “The rest of them were not very good at drib­bling. And we got out and ran and hit shots and got their 6-5 out of the paint.”

Neigh­bors said some un­no­ticed plusses were Ramirez’s seven re­bounds and Dungee’s drive “tak­ing it to Lee” for the K-state cen­ter’s fourth foul and also Arkansas cen­ter Tay­lah Thomas, five points and seven re­bounds, of­fen­sively ro­tat­ing out­side to force Lee from de­fen­sively camp­ing in­side.

All of that helped Tole­free but noth­ing like Tole­free helped her­self get­ting on a roll.

“We all know what it’s like when Lex sees one go in,” Neigh­bors said. “That lit­tle run­ner got her started and the change they made in guard­ing Chelsea and her find­ing Lex got it go­ing.”

CRAVEN WHITLOW/NATE Allen Sports Ser­vice

Arkansas guard Chelsea Dungee goes up for a shot in an 81-72 win over Kansas State Satur­day in the SEC/BIG 12 Chal­lenge at Bud Wal­ton Arena. Dungee scored 34 points in the vic­tory.

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