STARKVILLE, Miss. – University of Arkansas sophomore Sarah Watkins finished with 21 points and six rebounds leading the No. 25 Razorbacks to a 61-56 Southeastern Conference win at Mississippi State Sunday.
The Razorbacks improve to 14-1 overall and 2-1 in the SEC while State falls to 8-6 overall and 0-2 in the league.
Arkansas had a double-digit lead with just over five minutes to play when a Razorback injury to junior Ashley Daniels forced a long lapse in play.
State put together a strong run closing within three points as time ticked off the clock but Watkins picked up the pace and kept Arkansas in the game for the win.
Junior Lyndsay Harris added 13 points and junior C’eira Ricketts finished with 10 for Arkansas.
“We came out flat to start the game,” Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said, “and we were flat again to start the second half. When Ashley went down, we struggled to get back into the game but I thought our team did a good job of staying together and finishing.”
The first half was tough for both teams. The Razorbacks missed their first seven shots and shot just 31.6% for the half but managed a 13-point lead at the break.
Harris led all scorers with 11 points and Watkins had 10. Although the Razorbacks struggled offensively, they did a good job of forcing turnovers. State had 15 miscues at the break and Arkansas had recorded five steals and six assists.
“We did a good job forcing turnovers,” said Collen. “I was pleased with the effort.”
The second half was again slow starting for both teams but Mississippi State’s Katia May put the team on her back and orchestrated a methodical comeback. The Bulldogs got it into single digits, 49-40 at the 5:36 mark and were within three, 57-54 at the one-minute mark.
They were forced to foul and the Razorbacks made the bonus shots down the stretch preserving the win.
Arkansas finished the game 16-for-24 from the line.