COLUMBIA, Mo. - Senior Erin Gatling scored a career-best 23 points leading the University of Arkansas women's basketball team to a 58-50 win at Missouri in SEC action Thursday.
The Razorbacks move to 14-5 overall and 2-4 in the SEC behind Gatling's three-point shooting clinic. Gatling hit a career-best six threes. The victory is the first for Arkansas over the Tigers since they joined the SEC this season.
"There is a time and place for everyone and everything and Erin's been waiting a long time," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "She got out to a good start and we just rode her into the second half. I thought our game plan defensively was really good. We knew we had to guard them on the perimeter but we also had to guard the baseline and we switch well and did a good job defensively and then Erin was the difference."
The first 10 minutes belonged to the Razorbacks as they held Missouri to just two points on 1-for-13 shooting. Arkansas forced turnovers early and rebounded well while not allowing the Tigers to get a good look from three-point range as they opened a 12-2 lead.
The Tigers made some substitutions and adjustments and clawed back into the game coming within four points of Arkansas but the Razorbacks hung on taking a 24-19 lead into the locker room at the break. It is the third time in six SEC games that Arkansas has held opponents to 19 first-have points.
Gatling came in off the bench and scored a game-leading nine first-half points hitting three three-pointers allowing the Razorbacks to lead from the tip.
After a quick 5-0 run to start the second half, Arkansas stumbled allowing the Tigers a pair of threes as they closed within two, 29-27, with 15:37 left to play.
The game would remain close for the duration with Arkansas maintaining the lead but never able to pull away. The Razorbacks' defense was like a gnat that kept Missouri off-balance as Arkansas forced 18 turnovers and converted that to 25 points.
Gatling and Calli Berna had hands in the passing lanes all game long and Missouri committed three shot clock violations and rushed many more after struggling to get the ball up the floor.
Missouri had momentum late in the game but Arkansas maintained possession with three offensive rebounds, followed by a pair of Tiger fouls as the energy swung to the Razorbacks' side of the floor. The Tigers' top three pointer shooter hit a bucket to bring Missouri within four.
Berna followed up with a drive and a layup and Arkansas got a steal and Gatling hit her sixth three of the night as the Razorbacks played the final 3:30 of the game as well as you can.
Arkansas shot 36 percent for the game hitting 21-for-59 including eight three pointers in the win. The Razorbacks were paced by Gatling with 23. Berna finished with 12 pints and Quistelle Williams had nine points for the Razorbacks. Keira Peak and Sarah Watkins had eight rebounds each in the balanced defensive effort.
Arkansas continues SEC action hosting No. 18 South Carolina Sunday at 2 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena.