Samara Spencer (Photo courtesy University of Arkansas)
ST. THOMAS, USVI — Arkansas Women’s Basketball (6-0) earned a hard-fought victory over Northern Arizona (3-3) in the first of three games at Paradise Jam. NAU led for 10 minutes in the first half, but after a 12-0 run by Arkansas before the halftime, the Razorbacks never looked back. Samara Spencer played a big part in helping the Razorbacks find a throw and finished with a career-high 27 points from 10 field goals. With the 82:73 win, head coach Mike Neighbors secured his 200th career win.
The Razorbacks couldn’t capitalize on the first two holdings, but a 3-pointer by Saylor Poffenbarger got Arkansas on the scene. The game was tied 7-7 with 6-01 up first, but Spencer knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Razorbacks back 10-9 ahead. NAU then went on a 7-2 run as Arkansas trailed 16-12 at the media timeout at 3-37 in the first quarter. Arkansas began to heat up thanks to Makayla Daniels, whose 3-point play put the Razorbacks back ahead 17-16. The Razorbacks had a 20-18 lead after the first 10 minutes of the game.
NAU took the lead back from a 3-pointer and built another on the next possession to regain the lead by four. Poffenbarger continued to play both ends of the floor with a twist to the basket as the Razorbacks were 26-24 down midway through the second quarter. A Spencer triple put the Razorbacks back in the lead 31-29 just over two minutes into the game. The Razorbacks drove on with a Poffenbarger 3-pointer and a Spencer layup just before the buzzer sounded. Arkansas trailed for most of the second quarter but closed the frame with a 12-0 run to lead 38-29 at halftime.
The Lumberjacks came out of the dressing room on a 5-0 run. Erynn Barnum gave the Razorbacks their first basket of halftime after a layup. Arkansas then went on an 8-2 run. NAU didn’t budge, knocking down a 3-pointer to reduce the Razorback lead to seven. At the media timeout, Arkansas had the 48-39 advantage. Arkansas took a 20-point lead after a layup by Maryam Dauda and a free throw. NAU made a 3-pointer to finish in third as the Razorbacks were up 61-46 after 30 minutes.
Spencer couldn’t be stopped in the paint as a layup earned her up to 20 points for her second 20 of the season. Arkansas led 65-51 minutes into the fourth quarter. A 3-point play from NAU helped the Lumberjacks get to eight, but a 3-point play from Spencer pushed the Razorbacks up double digits. NAU emptied another 3-pointer to reduce Arkansas’ lead to seven with just under seven minutes left in the game. Barnum got a layup and Spencer followed with another layup to go to 27 points while Arkansas led by 12 points and stayed 1:29 in the game. After NAU once again reduced the lead to single digits, Arkansas clung to the stretch and made 5 of 6 shots off the line in the last minute. Arkansas pulled away with an 82-73 win.
Arkansas will take the late shift at Friday’s Paradise Jam as the team will face off against Clemson at 7 p.m. Coverage of this game will be broadcast on ESPN3.
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