FAYETTEVILLE -- Energized behind a loud home crowd, the University of Arkansas women's basketball team surged past Texas Tech in the second half and advanced to the WNIT quarterfinals with a 71-66 win Friday night inside Walton Arena.
Arkansas (24-12) and Texas Tech were knotted at 28-28 at halftime, but Makayla Daniels scored 16 of the Razorbacks' 43 points in the final 20 minutes to power the team to victory. The senior point guard finished with a team-high 21 points to go with 8 rebounds and 3 assists.
"She got that look in her eye again of, 'The season's not going to end like this, we're not going to go down like this,' " Arkansas Coach Mike Neighbors said of Daniels. "We had some really tough timeouts when some of those [Texas Tech] runs were happening, and I thought she was just great. She's really starting to find her voice."
The Lady Raiders (20-15) trailed by eight points late in the third quarter, but drew within 49-47 with 8:26 remaining when Bre'Amber Scott banked in three of her game-high 28 points as the shot clock expired. Daniels raced down the court and countered with a three-pointer of her own, bringing the crowd to its feet.
Texas Tech drew closed the gap again to 56-54 when Bryn Gerlich made a three-pointer from the left wing, but again the Razorbacks responded. Chrissy Carr made back-to-back shots from beyond the arc and Daniels salted the game away down the stretch with five made free throws.
"I don't think one person on our team wanted the season to end tonight," Daniels said. "We had a big run at the beginning of the game, then we kind of got on our heels and they came back. But I don't think anyone panicked in that moment. I think we went into halftime, we reset, and I think we just had the mentality that we are not going to lose."
Arkansas roared out to a 15-0 lead five minutes into the game, sizzling from the floor and creating havoc on defense. The Lady Raiders responded with a 26-6 run to silence the home crowd and claim their largest lead, 26-21.
The Razorbacks went on a 7-0 run, but Texas Tech's Kilah Freelon made a jumper as the first-half buzzer sounded to send the teams to their locker rooms tied 28-28.
Neighbors' team rallied behind its defense in the third quarter, holding the Lady Raiders to 20% shooting in the period, and outscored Texas Tech by five points.
"Whenever we were rallying and trying to figure things out whenever they had taken the lead, the first thing that I saw looking down at the bench was people saying, 'We're not losing this game.' " Carr said. "Mak[ayla] was saying it, Sam[ara Spencer] was saying it. Everyone had that in their mind. ... When you have teammates like that and you have a team like that, it builds into something special."
The Razorbacks fed off the momentum of an announced crowd of 3,560, a number which felt low to Neighbors based off his observations.
"It seemed like they counted every other seat," Neighbors said. "It seemed like 7,000. I mean, I don't know how that goes, but it certainly was a very, very loud 3,500. It was very influential and impactful. It got us going when we need to."
Arkansas outrebounded Texas Tech 39-30, with three different players nearing double-figure rebounding. Scott's former teammate at Little Rock Central, Erynn Barnum, led the Razorbacks with 10 boards. Saylor Poffenbarger added nine rebounds to go with Daniels' eight.
Carr had 17 points for the Razorbacks, 12 of which came off three-pointers, and Samara Spencer rounded out the double-figure scoring with 10 points.
The Razorbacks will travel to face Kansas at 2 p.m. Central on Sunday, with the winner advancing to the WNIT semifinals to take on the winner of the Oregon-Washington game.
Oregon 81, San Diego 61
Kansas 64, Nebraska 55
Harvard 74, Rhode Island 63
Bowling Green 73, Memphis 60
Florida 73, Clemson 63
Arkansas 71, Texas Tech 66
Columbia 88, Syracuse 82
Washington 55, Kansas State 48
SUNDAY’S GAMES All times Central
Arkansas at Kansas, 2 p.m.
Harvard at Columbia, 3 p.m.
Oregon at Washington, 5 p.m.
Florida at Bowling Green, 5 p.m.