FAYETTEVILLE -- Walton Arena did little to cure the ills of the Arkansas women's basketball team Monday night.
Kentucky jumped to a 17-point halftime lead and cruised to a 76-65 victory over the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Arkansas (11-11, 2-7 SEC) had a pair of first-half scoring droughts that put the Razorbacks down big, and they never recovered. The Razorbacks trailed by 23 after three quarters, and the final score was as close as they got in the second half.
Arkansas was looking for some momentum after a recent road trip. The Razorbacks had lost six of their past seven, including five of those on the road. But an early 12-7 lead went away quickly thanks to an 18-2 Kentucky run.
Arkansas Coach Mike Neighbors pointed to Kentucky's switch from man-to-man defense to zone late in the first quarter as the turning point.
"It allowed them to get out in transition," Neighbors said. "We started missing shots. It really hurt our confidence, and there for about a six-minute stretch we didn't play very hard. And in this league, when you don't play for six minutes you end up down 20 at half.
"We turned it over. They had it really well scouted. It's an offense that we've run for a number of years. It's hard to guard when you don't turn it over, but we turned it over a bunch. That led to runouts, transition baskets, which you can't defend those when their post player is getting the rebound and turning and running the floor and getting a layup on the other end. There's not a team in the world that can stop a team that's doing that."
The Wildcats shot 56 percent from the floor (18 of 32) in the first half. Arkansas went without a field goal for almost 10 minutes in the first half, but trailed only 25-18 after Kiara Williams' basket with 6:50 left in the second quarter.
But Kentucky applied a gut punch with an 18-3 run to take a 43-21 advantage on Amanda Paschal's jumper off a fast break with 1:57 left before halftime.
Dorie Harrison, a 6-3 freshman, led five Kentucky players in double figures with 16 points off the bench. Makenzie Cann and Taylor Murray chipped in 12 each. Maci Morris had 11 and Paschal scored 10.
Devin Cosper led Arkansas with a game-high 17 points, while Jailyn Mason added 13 and Malica Monk contributed 11. The Razorbacks finished 37.5 percent (21 of 56) from the floor and committed 18 turnovers. They also were outrebounded 35-33.
Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell agreed the defensive change was big.
"They didn't have their best night," Mitchell said. "They can shoot the ball better than they did. But we were energetic and we were active.
"Three things we wanted to accomplish was keep Monk out of transition and for most part we did that. We wanted to win the turnover battle and win the boards. We were able to get all three accomplished and those were keys."
Sports on 01/30/2018
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