Pfeifer Lady'Backs sting Yellowjackets at Russell Shootout
DULUTH, Ga. – Sophomore Sarah Pfeifer hit her career high for a second game in a row as the University of Arkansas defeated Georgia Tech, 71-59, in the opening game of the Russell Athletic Shootout at the Gwinnett Center. Pfeifer had 24 points as the Lady Razorbacks never trailed to the Yellowjackets, but also never had a comfortable lead until the closing moments of the game. Arkansas, 15-8, wins its second game of the week as Pfeifer had 24 points to better her career high of 21 that she tied on Thursday with Alabama. Georgia Tech drops to 13-9 on the season. “Sarah is becoming a go-to player that we know will get the job done inside,” UA head coach Susie Gardner said. “Sarah’s had big games this week, and we made a concerted effort to get her the ball.” It was evident from the first possessions that Pfeifer would be the focus of the game as she hit the first six points for Arkansas and forced consecutive turnovers from Tech’s post players. “They were more physical than a thought they would be,” Pfeifer said. “But I think we are coming together as a team and you can’t just guard one player. It makes it hard for opponents.” Arkansas had four starters in double-figures with sophomore Kristin Peoples scoring 14 points, nine of them at the free throw line as Tech tried to foul its way back into the game late. “We’ve been practicing and playing hard, and I think that was evident out there today,” Gardner said. Sophomore Danielle Allen had 12 points, mostly in the second half as the foil for Pfeifer when she drew double and triple teams from Tech. Opening the second half neither team could create offensive consistency until Arkansas began to break Allen free down the lane. Pfeifer took advantage of Tech’s defense to fire the ball across the key for consecutive layups by Allen to give Arkansas 35-32 lead. On Tech’s next possession, Sheree Thompson went up for a rebound with Jessica Williams. Williams pulled away the ball, but wheeled an aggressive elbow into Allen for a technical foul. April Seggrbruch checked into the game to hit both free throws to put Arkansas up 39-34 with 15 minutes left. Allen and Pfeifer pushed Arkansas to a nine-point lead, 46-37, as Tech managed only two field goals in the first 12 minutes of the second half. Tech scratched back into the contest from the free throw line, hitting eight sandwiched around a layup by Janie Mitchell to pull back within five. A deep three-pointer from Ingram made it one, 53-51, with 4:51 to play, but Arkansas responded with an in-bound jumper from Pfeifer and a steal and layup from Thompson reset the lead at six, 57-51. Tech switched to a full-court press that led to a pair of broken plays. The first resulted in Rochelle Vaughn’s fifth foul as she lunged for a loose ball, then Tech trapped Pfeifer into a turnover. The Yellowjackets converted the mistakes into two free throws, and began to foul Arkansas to sent the Lady’Backs to the line. Freshman Shantrell Moss committed an intentional foul on Brittney Vaughn with 1:48 to play which allowed Arkansas to keep the lead 62-55. Tech followed up with Stephanie Higgs picking up her fifth foul and sending Peoples to the line where she hit both to keep GTU at bay. For the final two minutes, Arkansas hit 10 free throws, six from Peoples, before Pfeifer’s breakaway layup finished the game. Arkansas broke from the gate behind three straight buckets in the lane by Pfeifer to take a 6-2 lead. Tech turnovers hampered the Yellowjackets early as Arkansas maintained its lead until the final seconds of the half. Timely baskets by Lady’Backs protected the spread as each time Tech made small runs in the first half. Thompson was the first to protect the lead hitting a three-pointer at 13:51. Thompson came back two minutes later to hit the second of what proved to be a three three-pointer spree for the junior. The 9-2 burst gave Arkansas its largest lead of the half, 21-13, with 8:56 to go. Tech warmed up from the perimeter as Ingram led GTU back. The freshman guard hit a pair of three-pointers in nine first half points, and closed out the first half with a buzzer-beating layup to tie the game at 29-29. For the game, Arkansas hit 65.4% from the line, but in the second half the Lady’Backs sank 15-of-21 for 71.4%. Arkansas also forced 19 turnovers out of the Yellowjackets, converting them into 24 points. Thompson finished Arkansas’ scoring with 11 points. Chioma Nnamaka led four Tech players in double digits with 17 points. Ingram added 15, Higgs 13 and Mitchell 12. Arkansas returns to Fayetteville to prepare for the final four SEC games of the year, heading to Vanderbilt on Thursday evening.