JONESBORO — The first Arkansas-Arkansas State women’s basketball game since 2005 was decided well before the finish.
Arkansas pushed its lead into double digits for good early in the third quarter Friday night and eventually led by as many as 26 points in a 94-71 victory over ASU before a crowd of 2,574 at First National Bank Arena.
Makayla Daniels scored 22 points to lead the Razorbacks (3-1), who shot 50 percent from the field and only committed 11 turnovers.
“Arkansas has a really good team,” ASU head coach Matt Daniel said. “They have good young talent. They’re well-coached and have a lot of experience, and their length gave us trouble tonight.
“We turned the ball over a little more than we have in the past, and defensively, guarding the ball has to be more of a focus. We gave up a lot of layups that buried us and tried to manage the game as best we could. In the second half, we managed the clock better. We just didn’t have it, it wasn’t enough.”
Including Daniels, four Razorbacks scored in double figures. Samara Spencer added 16 points, Amber Ramirez scored 13 while Marquesha Davis finished with 10. Daniels led Arkansas in rebounding with eight.
Trinitee Jackson recorded her third career double-double to lead ASU (2-2), scoring 14 points with 16 rebounds.
Keya Patton added 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting with three rebounds and a pair of assists. Jade Upshaw scored 10 off the bench, giving her four consecutive games with 10 or more points to open her ASU career. Morgan Wallace grabbed eight boards with five points while preseason All-Sun Belt selection Jireh Washington saw her first action of the season, scoring five points off the bench.
ASU came out firing, taking an early 4-0 lead within the first minute and leading 12-6 after an 8-0 run capped off by a Mailyn Wilkerson 3. The Razorbacks regained momentum, ending the opening quarter with a 28-20 lead.
“They obviously had a lot of energy to start, a lot of energy from Arkansas State,” Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said. “We fell behind a little bit early, but I never saw any panic.”
Arkansas’ largest lead of the first half came after a 9-0 run, giving the Razorbacks a 37-22 lead with just over seven minutes remaining. The Red Wolves cut the deficit to nine late on a Wallace layup with 1:30 to go. A Spencer lay-in with 19 seconds to play gave Arkansas a 51-40 lead at the half.
The Red Wolves trimmed the margin to eight early in the third on a driving layup by Patton before Arkansas surged ahead to lead by 18 entering the final period. After ASU cut it to 16 on a Wallace bucket, the Razorbacks went on a 10-0 run to reach their largest lead of the night at 89-63 with under four minutes left.
“When it’s clicking, it’s obviously more fun,” Daniel said. “We tried to slow down the game a little bit to manage the clock and our execution is not there yet, so that throws timing off and where shots are coming from off, and then that throws transition defense off because nobody knows when the ball is going to go up or turn over.”
Friday’s game was the first in a four-year, home-and-home series. Arkansas is scheduled to host next season’s meeting.
“Really happy this game happened. It’s been a long time in the making,” Neighbors said. “There was a lot of excitement in the town and I’m glad that we got it going, and look forward to having it for a long time.”
Both teams are scheduled to play again Monday. Arkansas will host SMU, while the Red Wolves travel to Southeast Missouri State. ASU will have a quick turnaround after the trip to SEMO, hosting the University of the Ozarks on Tuesday.
Neighbors said he thinks ASU will finish higher than predicted (10th) in the Sun Belt.
“I think they’ve got a lot of really, really good pieces and a team that I think is very similar to ours,” Neighbors said. “I like (Daniel’s) young kids, I like the pieces he has returning, and watching them now having played Oklahoma and having played us, I think this is a team that is vastly improved.”