Lady ‘Backs de­mol­ish Demons

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

FAYETTEVIL­LE — Arkansas’ na­tion­ally No. 21 Ra­zor­backs women put the North­west­ern State Demons through bas­ket­ball hell Sun­day af­ter­noon at Wal­ton Arena.

Fu­eled by a 24-0 run dur­ing the first half and tal­ly­ing a 35-8 third quar­ter, Coach Mike Neigh­bors’ Ra­zor­backs of the SEC ex­or­cised the Demons 99-39.

Arkansas ad­vances to 10-1 go­ing into meet­ing Coach Joe Fo­ley’s Univer­sity of Arkansasli­t­tle Rock Tro­jans at 1 p.m. Satur­day at Sim­mons Bank Arena in North Lit­tle Rock.

The Demons of Natchi­toches, Louisiana, and the South­land Con­fer­ence fall to 3-5.

Am­ber Ramirez, play­ing 21 min­utes with no Arkansas starter play­ing more than Chelsea Dungee’s 23, led Arkansas with 21 points, in­clud­ing 7 of 12 treys.

Neigh­bors ac­knowl­edged that Ramirez likely was on Ra­zor­backs record scor­ing pace with her point a minute and seven treys had he al­lowed her more min­utes.

“The cor­ners were open and we kept find­ing her and she had that look in her eye,” Neigh­bors said. “But it’s a fine line, a school record is a good con­fi­dence-builder but if you know that kid she wants to break that school record against a con­fer­ence op­po­nent some­where down in the line in

a close game. But ev­ery one of them (her 3-point at­tempts) looked good com­ing out of her hand, all 12 of them. But there will be a game when she goes Al Dil­lard (the off the bench 3-point shoot­ing star for Nolan Richard­son’s 1994 Ra­zor­backs men na­tional cham­pi­ons) on some­body when we re­ally need ev­ery sin­gle one of them.”

Neigh­bors said he’s elated to have four starters, Ramirez, Dungee, Makayla Daniels and Con­way’s Alexis Tole­free, to make five or more treys in a game this sea­son.

“Is there any­body else in the coun­try that’s done that?” Neigh­bors in­quired. “I don’t know but I’m not sure any­body’s had four do­ing it on sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions. It’s been Lex lately and they came at her today and that left Am­ber open. When she gets her feet set and is con­fi­dent, I’ll take my chances on her mak­ing it that’s for sure.”

Neigh­bors said he played the starters more than they nor­mally would have played in a rout like Sun­day’s, but com­ing off a clear-the-bench 91-41 rout over Tulsa last Wed­nes­day and fi­nal ex­ams be­tween now and Satur­day, Neigh­bors said he had to play his starters in the 18- to 23-minute range to “keep them sharp play­ing against Joe Fo­ley Satur­day.”

Ramirez’s first two of her six first-half treys jumped Arkansas to an 8-0 lead af­ter Makayla Daniels’ game-open­ing layup.

Sur­pris­ingly, given what would later oc­cur, the Demons bat­tled back de­mon­i­cally.

They tied it 8-8, 11-11 and 13-13 be­fore buried 24-0 in the Ra­zor­backs’ run.

Neigh­bors played ev­ery­body on his bench be­fore the 49-22

first half was com­pleted and played the en­tire ros­ter again in the sec­ond half.

One re­serve used, se­nior cen­ter Kiara Wil­liams is a past starter de­but­ing Sun­day for

this sea­son fol­low­ing a se­ri­ous un­re­lated to bas­ket­ball in­jury shortly be­fore Arkansas’ Nov. 8 sea­son-open­ing vic­tory over New Or­leans. Wil­liams is healed from her in­juries but

needs con­di­tion­ing to “get her lungs back,” Neigh­bors said.

Wil­liams logged 8:55 Sun­day with four points on 4 of 4 free throws and grabbed three re­bounds and blocked three shots.

Neigh­bors said se­nior three­year let­ter­ing guard Jai­lyn Ma­son, foot in­jury since pre­sea­son, and fresh­man cen­ter Desti­nee Oberg, pre­sea­son un­re­lated bas­ket­ball in­jury, still can­not prac­tice. For now Neigh­bors said he hasn’t yet de­cided if they’ll red­shirt with just two games left be­fore the Jan. 2 SEC opener against Texas A&M.

Col­lec­tively, post play­ers Erynn Bar­num, 14 points, eight re­bounds and two blocked shots, and starter Tay­lah Thomas, five points, six re­bounds and a blocked shot, to­taled 23 points, 17 re­bounds and six blocked shots.

For­ward Rokia Doumbia blocked two shots, one that might have been heard from Wal­ton Arena back to Doumbia’ home­town of Mali, Africa.

“We re­tired the Best Block of the Year Award at half­time,” Neigh­bors said. “If any­body tops that one we’ll give away two awards. It sounded more like a vol­ley­ball spike. It was one of those blocks you dream about mak­ing in a pickup game.”

Arkansas had five scor­ing dou­ble fig­ures from re­serve A’tyanna Gaulden’s 11 points to Ramirez’s 21. Gaulden shot per­fectly 2 for 2 from the field, 7 for 7 from the line and had four re­bounds, two steals and six as­sists against one turnover.

Arkansas outscored its op­po­nent 48-10 in the paint and 28-2 off turnovers.

“Our de­fense was as good as it’s been all year,” Neigh­bors said.

CRANT OS­BORNE/NATE Allen Sports Ser­vice

Lady ‘Backs ju­nior guard Am­ber Ramirez shoots a three in the first half of a 99-39 Arkansas vic­tory over the North­west­ern State Demons Sun­day at Bud Wal­ton Arena. Ramirez scored 21 points in the win.

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