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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas' Kiara Williams looks to shoot while Ole Miss' Shelby Gibson defends Sunday Dec. 31, 2017 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Arkansas won 73-72 and plays again at home on Jan. 7 against Alabama. - Photo by J.T. Wampler

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville escaped with a 73-72 victory Sunday at Walton Arena, stopping the Ole Miss Rebels' fourth-quarter comeback attempt for its first SEC women's victory of the season.

"This is a really big confidence booster for us," Razorbacks (10-4, 1-0) guard Devin Cosper said. "They picked us to finish last in the SEC, and we're just going to use that to our advantage."

Cosper had her sixth double-double of the season, scoring 18 and grabbing 11 rebounds. She also hit a three-pointer to stop an Ole Miss run, but it was guard Malica Monk who came away with the biggest play of the night.

Ole Miss (10-4, 0-1) guard Alissa Alston tried to bounce an inbound pass off the back of Arkansas forward Taylah Thomas with five seconds left, but Monk reached in and stole the ball to secure the victory.

"I'll be danged if she didn't go out there and get that steal," Arkansas Coach Neighbors said.

Monk's late-game heroics could have been avoided, but the Hogs surrendered a 12-point lead heading into the fourth and saw it evaporate after the Rebels scored 11 consecutive behind guards Madinah Muhammad and Alston and center Shelby Gibson.

"We just stayed persistent in what we were doing the whole game, and they did a good job of guarding it, but we wore them down a little bit. We're able to get some things going toward the rim and get to the free-throw line," Ole Miss Coach Matt Insell said.

Arkansas, which had led the majority of the game, began to struggle with the Rebels' full-court pressure and size as the Razorbacks picked up three fouls and three turnovers early in the fourth quarter.

Neighbors picked up a technical foul with 7:25 left in the game, which added to the Rebels' comeback and caused the coach some worry, he said.

"You always do as a coach when it starts looking like a one- or two-point game and you know you've probably cost your team a couple of points," Neighbors said about the technical. "I did worry about it. If we had lost by one, I probably wouldn't have slept very much."

Gibson led the Rebels in scoring with a season-high 21 points after averaging just over four points a game coming in. Arkansas struggled to stop the 6-3 sophomore as she finished 9 of 13 before fouling out.

The victory gave Arkansas its fifth in its last six games.

In other Top 25/SEC women’s games Sunday, A’ja Wilson scored 25 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1.3 seconds left, as No. 4 South Carolina (12-1) rallied from 11 points down in the final 13 minutes to upend No. 22 Texas A&M (11-4) 61-59 to open SEC play.

… Evina Westbrook scored 17 points, Mercedes Russell added 16 and No. 7 Tennessee (13-0) started quickly against Kentucky (8-7) and didn’t let up in rolling to a 63-49 victory in the SEC opener for both schools. … Jordan Chavis made 4 three-pointers and scored 17 points, Sophie Cunningham added 13 points and No. 16 Missouri (13-1) beat Alabama (10-4) 62-57.

SUN BELT MEN

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE 88, ARKANSAS STATE 78

Arkansas State (6-9, 1-1 Sun Belt Conference) got at least 13 points from four different players, but a late 9-0 run by Louisiana-Lafayette (12-3, 2-0) proved to be too much for the Red Wolves to overcome at First National Bank Arena in Jonesboro. The Red Wolves were led by senior guard Rashad Lindsey’s season-high 18 points.

SOUTHLAND MEN

SE LOUISIANA 73, CENTRAL ARKANSAS 69

The University of Central Arkansas had trouble making field goals in the first half and free throws in the second half and fell to Southeastern Louisiana (8-7, 2-0 Southland Conference) at the Farris Center in Conway. The Bears (7-8, 1-1) shot just 31.3 percent from the field in the first half. UCA’s Jordan Howard finished with a team-high 13 points.

SUN BELT WOMEN

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE 77, ARKANSAS STATE 75

Arkansas State (6-7, 1-1 Sun Belt Conference) erased a 10-point deficit but could not hold onto a late lead as the Red Wolves fell to Louisiana-Lafayette (6-8, 1-1) at First National Bank Arena in Jonesboro. ASU’s Payton Tennison finished with 14 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists, while Jada Ford led the Red Wolves in scoring with 16 points.

SOUTHLAND WOMEN

CENTRAL ARKANSAS 63, SE LOUISIANA 47

The University of Central Arkansas held Southeastern Louisiana to only two points in the second quarter and the Lady Lions never recovered as the Sugar Bears (9-4, 2-0 Southland Conference) secured their 14th consecutive home victory in the Farris Center in Conway. The Sugar Bears built a lead as large as 22 in the fourth quarter before the Lady Lions (1-12, 0-2) were able to close it to the final margin. Senior Kierra Jordan led the Sugar Bear game-highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds.

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Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas' Devin Cosper goes up for a shot while Ole Miss' Promise Taylor defends Sunday Dec. 31, 2017 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Arkansas won 73-72 and plays again at home on Jan. 7 against Alabama.

Sports on 01/01/2018

Print Headline: Arkansas holds off late Ole Miss charge

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