Arkansas comeback falls short at Oregon 70-59

EUGENE, Ore. – Juniors Kristin Peoples and Dominque Washington led the comeback but the University of Arkansas could not complete the rally as the Oregon Ducks handed the Lady Razorbacks their first loss of the season, 70-59. Arkansas, 2-1, travels north to face Portland State, tonight at 9 p.m. CST. Oregon, 4-1, was led by Gabrielle Richards with 18. With only four players under six-feet tall on the roster, Oregon used its size to muscle out to a lead of 17 points in the second half, but a furious Arkansas’ comeback sliced the lead to three with three minutes to play. “I was so proud of our team, how we battled back, but we’ve got to avoid the little errors at the end of the game,” UA head coach Susie Gardner said. Peoples had 16 points and Washington scored 14 points for Arkansas. A three-pointer from Kedzie Gunderson, a long jumper from Eleanor Haring and a layup from Richards gave Oregon a 7-0 start to the second half. The Ducks kept pouring on the offense with a 13-2 run to lead 46-32 with 15 minutes left in the game. The Duck scoring spree eventually built a 17-point lead before consecutive intentional fouls set the stage for an Arkansas comeback. The Lady’Backs ground the Duck lead down to 12 before Washington hit six straight points to bring Arkansas back under double digits. A three-pointer by Peoples cut the lead to three, 57-54, with 3:32 left to play. It was as close as the Lady’Backs could get as a 7-0 run regained the double-digit lead for Oregon, keyed off unfortunate turnovers by Arkansas. For the game, Oregon outrebounded Arkansas, 50-30, and the Ducks shot 43.6% from the field. “Our defense wasn’t very strong in the paint, and that left Richards open,” Gardner said. At the start of the game, it looked like Arkansas’ hot hand may take control of the contest. “We started the game outstanding, and we hit the big three-pointers to put them in trouble,” Gardner said. Oregon packed in its 2-3 zone from the opening tip, but Arkansas calmly moved the ball around the perimeter for uncontested three-pointers from Rochelle Vaughn, Sheree Thompson and Peoples to build an 11-2 lead. Arkansas was aided by five consecutive Duck turnovers. Shot out of its zone, the Ducks went to a man-to-man to slow Arkansas’ offense and began to feed the ball down low to Richards for eight straight points to pull within five, 13-8. Five points from the Vaughns off a trey from Rochelle and a baseline reverse layup from Brittney led Arkansas back to a 10-point lead, 22-12, with 8:56 left in the half. Oregon worked its way back into the game at the free throw line, hitting five straight before a three-point play by Chelsea Wagner capped a 10-0 run to tie the game at 22-22 with 5:55. The teams exchanged leads until Cicely Oakes hit the first three-pointer of the game for Oregon broke the game open for the Ducks, 27-23. Oregon never trailed from that point to the end of the game. Washington’s field goals in the final five minutes were the only offense for the Lady’Backs as the Ducks hung onto a three-point lead at half, 33-30.