Arkansas women beat Dayton 72-55 in NCAA opener

CHRIS DUNCAN AP Sports Writer Published:

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Dayton's experience didn't count for much against Arkansas' swarming defense.

Quistelle Williams scored 15 points, Keira Peak and Lyndsay Harris added 14 apiece, and the Razorbacks rallied from an early double-digit deficit to defeat Dayton 72-55 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Andrea Hoover scored 16 and Justine Raterman added 14 for the No. 11-seeded Flyers (23-7), who withered under the Razorbacks' full-court pressure and missed their final 15 shots.

"We kind of ran out of gas in the second half," Dayton coach Jim Jabir said.

Dayton was playing in its third consecutive NCAA tournament, while the Razorbacks (24-8) were making their first appearance since 2003.

"It's hard to look back on it right now," senior forward Elle Queen said. "But it's been great, and it's a great bunch of people and it's been fun to go through this process together."

C'eira Ricketts had 13 points and five assists for the sixth-seeded Razorbacks, who finished with a 20-2 run after trailing by as many as 14 in the first half.

Dayton, which led the Atlantic 10 in scoring at 71 points per game, shot 24 percent from the field in the second half against the Razorbacks' 10th-ranked scoring defense.

"We were letting one mistake turn into two, turn into three," Raterman said. "Those are the times we really had to buckle down, and we didn't do that."

The Razorbacks were the ones having shooting problems at the start, missing 10 of their first 11 attempts. But they began attacking the basket to rally late in the first half.

"There was a point, early in the game, where they were being challenged," Collen said. "They found a way to respond. They dug deep down inside, they didn't lose confidence in themselves, and they battled back."

Sarah Watkins, Arkansas' 6-foot-3 center, scored inside and converted a three-point play at the start of a 19-5 spurt. The speedy Peak drove for two layups during the run, and Ricketts' free throws in the final minute before the break tied the game at 35-35.

The Flyers were stunned by how quickly the Razorbacks were able to come back.

"I think it was one of those games where we made a few mistakes and we just let them compile on themselves," senior center Casey Nance said. "They just kind of got magnified that way."

Arkansas went straight to Watkins on the first play of the second half, and she muscled inside to give the Razorbacks their first lead. Harris followed with a 3-pointer, but then fell hard on her back trying to guard Nance. Harris returned to the game a few minutes later.

Hoover hit a 3-pointer and Raterman sank a pair of jumpers to put Dayton back in front. Ricketts answered with a pull-up jumper, then turned a steal into a fast-break layup.

When the Flyers' misses started piling up, they let it affect their defense.

"We didn't play with emotion or passion defensively in the second half, and that's uncharacteristic," Jabir said. "Regardless of what happens, whether the shots go or not, we have a certain mentality when we defend."

Arkansas turned to its full-court pressure early, but Dayton point guard Patrice Lalor handled it well for a while. Samantha Mackey's 3-pointer with 12:30 left in the first half put the Flyers up 18-7.

Dayton's lead swelled to 30-16 as the Flyers continued to find cracks in Arkansas' defense.