DULUTH, Ga. – A back and forth battle came down to the final seconds, where the University of Arkansas fell to Florida in the first round of the 2013 SEC Tournament in Duluth, Ga. Arkansas had four players, led by Dominique Wilson with 14 points. Keira Peak and Quistelle Williams had 12 points each, and Sarah Watkins added 10 in the 64-59 loss.
“I’m extremely proud of my team,” Arkansas coach Tom Collen said. “We came out ready to play. Ultimately, it just didn’t go our way.”
It was a slow, methodic start for both teams as they traded baskets as a leisurely pace in the early minutes of the game. Florida found the spark first and went on a 7-0 run in a little over a minute taking a 12-6 lead around the mid-point mark of the first half. The Gators hit three quick threes in the run to stretch the lead.
The Razorbacks broke from the media timeout at the 11:28 mark and put together a 12-1 run of their own to re-take the lead. Erin Gatling hit a couple of big shots including a three pointer and Wilson drained a deep three that allowed the Razorbacks to hold on to the lead through the 6:30 minute mark of the first half.
The Gators got a layup from Sydney Moss that tied the game at 18 and Florida took control of the tempo of the game. Florida was able to get out in transition against Arkansas and went on an 8-0 run to take a 26-20 lead with just under three minutes to play in the first frame.
As the final media timeout was called, it was Arkansas’ turn to again swing momentum to their side of the floor. The Razorbacks closed the half on an 8-1 run over the final 1:16 taking a 33-30 lead into the locker room at the break.
Arkansas tied the game at 28 after Wilson drove the lane and was fouled on the play. She hit both bonus shots to tie the game. Then Williams hit a three pointer and Arkansas got a final layup on from Melissa Wolff after a great pass from Calli Berna to close the period.
The Razorback were 4-for-7 from beyond the arc and 13-for-28 overall at the break shooting 46.4 percent. Wilson had 10 points at the half to lead Arkansas.
Arkansas’ momentum continued in the second half when Peak found her shot and hit eight points in the opening four minutes to extend the Razorback lead. Arkansas’ defense came up big holding Florida without a made field goal for nearly the first five minutes of the second half.
The Razorbacks went cold missing three consecutive shots while allowing the Gators a 7-0 run as Florida tied the game at 49-all at the mid-point of the second half. The run helped erase an 11-point second half lead and Florida pulled ahead, 51-49, at the under eight media timeout.
Arkansas found itself in a bit of foul trouble as the Gators pushed the pace. A jumper by Watkins put the Razorbacks back in the lead, and then Peak scored the next four Razorback points, scoring on consecutive possessions to put Arkansas ahead 57-54. After the Gators retook the lead at 58-57, it was Peak again scoring a big basket for Arkansas, driving to the hoop and scoring to put UA ahead 59-58 with just 1:11 to play. Florida answered with a basket on the next possession, and closed the game on a 6-0 run to end the tournament for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks finished the game shooting 48.1 percent on 26-for-54 from the floor. Arkansas had four three pointers, all in the first half and was just 3-for-6 from the line. The Gators outrebounded Arkansas 37-24 and went 18-for-22 from the line in the win.
Arkansas returns home hosting SIU-Edwardsville on Thursday in the final game before a possible invitation to a postseason tournament.