UA women take advantage of opponent once fatigue hit

Posted: November 3, 2017 at 2:40 a.m.

Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors talks to players during an exhibition game against Northeastern State on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Mike Neighbors era, at least unofficially, began with a victory thanks to a big fourth quarter from Devin Cosper.

The senior poured in a career-high 31 points to lead Arkansas to an 82-74 victory over Northeastern (Okla.) State in an exhibition game Thursday night at Walton Arena.

Women’s College Basketball

Arkansas 82, Northeastern (Okla.) State 74

Northeastern State^14^24^13^23^—^74


Northeastern State: Griffin 17, Blevins 11, Long 9, Hayes 8, Brooks 8, Eldred 7, Strange 6, Hill 3, Hellyer 3, Bertrand 2.

Arkansas: Cosper 31, Northcross-Baker 17, Monk 14, Mason 9, Thomas 6, Williams 5,

3-point FG — Northeastern State 13-35 (Griffin 5-9). Arkansas 10-25 (Cosper 6-9). Assists Northeastern State: 13 (Strange, Griffin, Eldred 3). Arkansas 16 (Monk 7). Steals: Northeastern State 7 (Blevins, Eldred 2). Arkansas 12 (Northcross-Baker 4). Blocked Shots: Northeastern State: 4 (Blevins 3). Arkansas 3 (Williams, Mason, Cosper 1). Turnovers: Northeastern State 14 (Bertrand 4). Arkansas: 9 (Zimmerman, Mason, Cosper 2).

Estimated actual attendance — 816.

Cosper scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, including 4 of 4 from the three-point line, as the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville took over late against the Division II RiverHawks. She scored eight points to help the Razorbacks break away from a 64-64 tie with 5:41 left.

Neighbors, who took the Arkansas job in the spring after leading Washington to four postseason appearances and one Final Four, said that performance is what he's looking for from Cosper, who he said his fast-paced style fits well.

"That's exactly the style of play that kid needs to play at every level she plays at," Neighbors said. "This game is built for her when it's fast and people are tired late in the game, and they have hands down and she makes threes. Then if they have hands up, she drives it in there."

Junior Raven Northcross-Baker, a junior college transfer playing her first game for Arkansas, said the team did not panic despite the stiff challenge from the RiverHawks.

"We stuck with our game plan," Northcross-Baker said. "The best thing Coach Neighbors told us to do was just stay the course. You're going to have ups and downs in every game, and they were having an up and we were having down. It was up to us to keep our minds right."

Arkansas found its shooting stroke to the tune of 12 of 21 in the fourth quarter, after making just 16 of 53 (30 percent) in the first three quarters.

Northcross-Baker scored 17, including 14 in the first half. Point guard Malica Monk added 14 points and 7 assists while committing only 1 turnover in 34 minutes.

Neighbors admitted there may have been some off-the-court distractions tied to the first game, but his team pushed through them.

"We may have played a little distracted to start, but I was really proud of the way our kids believe and trust in what we do," he said. "The formula pays off late in the game. We were the fresher team late."

Northeastern State Coach Fala Bullock acknowledged her team got tired late.

"One thing that was very clear was that they were in better shape than us," Bullock said. "We really kind of died out there I thought in the fourth quarter, just in general. I thought we kept trying to fight for it, but I thought our fatigue really showed up."

Miranda Griffin, a 5-10 senior guard, led the RiverHawks with 17 points, including five three-pointers. Lauryn Blevins added 11.

Northeastern State won only six games a year ago, but the RiverHawks led the Razorbacks 38-35 at halftime thanks to a second-quarter three-point show.

The RiverHawks closed the first half with a 17-4 run, including five three-pointers. That came after Arkansas built double-digit leads twice, the first on a 17-2 run for a 19-6 lead in the first quarter fueled by Cosper and Northcross-Baker.

Northeastern State pulled within 23-19 early in the second quarter, but Arkansas used an 8-2 spurt to push the lead back to 10 with 4:23 left in the first half.

Arkansas opens the season Nov. 10 by hosting Sam Houston State in a 10:30 a.m. start.

Sports on 11/03/2017