By Nate Perry, TTU Sports Information
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Tennessee Tech women's basketball team took on an Arkansas team that used a combination of hot shooting and suffocating defense to deal the Golden Eagles their third loss of the season on Tuesday night.
"Arkansas was a difficult matchup for us," said head coach Kim Rosamond. "We knew they were a very explosive offensive basketball team, but tonight, I thought the difference in the game was how tough and efficient they were on the defensive end."
"Their size and length at the guard position really frustrated us. They guarded us extremely well, switched on a lot of screens on the perimeter, and made it very difficult for us to get open looks. They did such a good job of keeping our penetrators in front, and didn't allow us to attack the rim and get to the free throw line."
The loss comes on the tail end of a four-game road swing that saw the Golden Eagles travel some 2,000 miles for contests in Charleston, S.C., and Wichita, Kan., before their final stop in Fayetteville.
"This 4-game road stretch was a great challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity for us," Rosamond said. "While we would have loved to win all four, I think it's very positive that we went 2-2 against quality opponents. It took us until February last year to learn how to win on the road, so I think that shows a lot of growth in our team."
Tech hung right with the Razorbacks early on, and trailed by just three points, 5-2, at the first quarter media timeout. From there, the momentum shifted pointedly in the direction of the Hogs, who used a 13-0 run keyed by star guard Chelsea Dungee, who went on to lead all scorers with 28 points.
"I thought we came out of the gates defending very well," Rosamond said. "But after we had such a difficult time scoring early, we lost our confidence, and were never able to regain it on the offensive end. When we lost confidence, we also stopped executing, and resorted to going 1-on-1 against (Southeastern Conference) athletes. We weren't going to win a lot of 1-on-1 battles tonight."
Despite the Arkansas run, Tech played a decent second quarter in which it shot 38.9 percent from the field, and was outscored by just one point, 17-16.
The Razorbacks' shooting prowess was most noticeable in the third quarter, where it clipped at nearly 60 percent (58.8), and made 10-of-17 attempts.
One of the bright spots in the game was the Golden Eagles' rebounding efforts, as they played U of A even on the boards, 42-42.
The visitors were at their best in the fourth quarter, where they outscored Arkansas 15-7, made 42.9 percent of their field goals, and held Arkansas to a game-low 13 percent from the floor.
Abby Buckner was TTU's leading scorer in the game with nine points, and added seven rebounds in a career-high 38 minutes. Buckner was followed by Jordan Brock, who scored seven points, Anacia Wilkinson with six, five each from Kentoria Alexander and Akia Harris, four from Taylor Lamb, and three apiece from Kesha Brady and Lacy Cantrell.
Cantrell led the club in rebounds with nine, followed by Buckner's seven, and then Alexander and Harris with five each.
Alexander and Harris also tied for the team high in assists with four.
"Our kids didn't give in," Rosamond said. "They kept fighting until the buzzer, and showed a lot of heart and character."
Tech will spend the next two weeks away from competition, which will allow the players to focus on their academics ahead of final exams, and work to better themselves in practice rather than prepare for an upcoming opponent.
"We'll take the next couple of weeks to get healthy, finish the semester on a positive note in the classroom, and really work on 'us' in practice," Rosamond said.
"We have to get back to taking care of the basketball and limiting our turnovers, which we did really well in our first six games. That boils down to decision-making and focusing on the small details that allow you to execute successfully on the offensive end."
An 11 a.m. tip against UNC Asheville on December 18 will await the Golden Eagles after the break, which will also be Education Day inside the Hooper Eblen Center.
Photo courtesy of Wichita State Athletic Media Relations