Arkansas Downs Lady Bulldogs 67-53 In Fayetteville
Playing in her native state of Arkansas, James scored a career-high 12 points but did not get enough offensive support as the Lady Bulldogs dropped a 67-53 decision to Arkansas in a Southeastern Conference women's basketball game played Sunday afternoon in Bud Walton Arena.
With the defeat, MSU fell to 14-13 overall and 4-10 in league play. Arkansas improved to 20-6 and 9-5. The Lady Bulldogs have now lost seven of their last eight but remain in sole possession of ninth place in the conference standing with one week to play.
Arkansas scored the game's first nine points and MSU never forced a tie or took a lead in the contest. The contest did remain competitive however, as the Maroon and White battled back from the early nine-point deficit to close within 16-14 on a layup by Shamia Robinson.
Two possessions later, James tied the contest at 19 on a 3-point basket. A North Little Rock native, James played 20 minutes in her first career start.
"Jerica gave us some good minutes and we decided to start her today," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "She is understanding the game more and is still learning as a freshman. She has a punch to her. She is a competitor and she is coachable. She can shoot the basketball as she showed today."
Arkansas scored the game's next four points and eased into halftime with a 28-23 advantage.
In the second half, the Razorbacks scored the half's first four points and quickly stretched the lead to 12 points on two free throws by Sarah Watkins. The Lady Bulldogs closed within eight points less than a minute later on two free throws by Kendra Grant.
A 9-4 Arkansas run helped move the hosts back out of danger. The Razorbacks stretched the lead to as many as 16 in the closing minutes.
"We have to shore up some things when it comes to team defense," Fanning-Otis said. "We have to play for 40 minutes and block out to not give our opponent second looks. We didn't have the 40 minute effort we needed today, but I thought we did some things well. Arkansas played hard, and hopefully we can come back strong over these last couple of games."
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 21 of 59 shots from the field (35.6 percent), 2 of 11 shots from 3-point range (18.2 percent) and 9 of 12 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent). The Razorbacks hit 25 of 61 shots from the field (41.0 percent), 7 of 26 shots from 3-point range (26.9 percent) and 10 of 16 shots from the foul line (62.5 percent).
Arkansas held a 39-38 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 11 assists and nine turnovers, while the Razorbacks had 17 assists and seven turnovers.
Arkansas received a double-double from Ashley Daniels (10 points, 16 rebounds). C'Eira Ricketts scored 18 points, while Lyndsay Harris followed with 17 points. Watkins finished with 12 points.
MSU remains on the road Thursday for a 6 p.m. central time start at Florida. The Lady Bulldogs close their season with a 12:30 p.m. home game Sunday against No. 7 Kentucky. MSU will recognize its senior class before that contest, which will be televised nationally on ESPNU as part of the network's prestigious "Campus Connection" package.