The University of Arkansas at Little Rock women's basketball team used its best offensive showing in three weeks to beat Missouri State 63-51 on Monday night.
The Trojans shot 46.3 percent from the floor at the Jack Stephens Center, their best showing since a 86-57 victory over Memphis to open the season Nov. 12. Led by Raeyana DeGray's 14 points, they had four players score at least 10.
They were at their best in the first half, when they turned missed shots into easy baskets while shooting 53.3 percent to take a 37-20 lead.
"We were running the ball," Coach Joe Foley said. "We were getting up and down the floor."
But the offensive success three days after a 48-45 loss at Saint Louis in which the Trojans shot just 35.8 percent might not have happened if not for another standout defensive performance from guard Monique Townson.
The senior who started her 70th career game, the most on the team, constantly pestered guard Liza Fruendt, who entered as Missouri State's leading scorer at 17.3 points per game.
"As she goes, they go," Foley said.
Townson made sure the Bears didn't, holding Fruendt scoreless through the first half and to a season-low 5 points on 2-of-8 shooting. Her two baskets came on a contested jumper in the third quarter and a three-pointer early in the fourth.
Townson -- who finished with 8 points, 5 assists and 3 steals -- made a point to limit Fruendt's quick release while holding her to eight shot attempts, which tied a season-low.
"It's a fun challenge," Townson said of drawing tough defensive assignments. "I always want to guard the best person on the floor. It gives me something to look forward to every game -- to try to stop their best player so we have a chance to win."
As the Bears were missing shots, the Trojans were grabbing rebounds and racing to the other end. Shooting just 39.5 percent from the floor through the first six games, UALR (3-4) made 8 of 15 shots in the first quarter to take a 19-10 lead, then 8 of 15 shots in the second quarter to go up 37-20.
"If they're hitting, we can't run," Foley said. "So, Mo shut her down. She's one of the better defensive players in the country now."
Foley thought fatigue played into a second-half lull, when Missouri State (1-6) got as close as 47-38 on a Fruendt's three-pointer early in the fourth quarter. But DeGray followed with a jumper, then Yanina Inkina scored the next six points on a three-point play and a three-pointer from the wing to put UALR up 55-38.
Inkina, a native of Belarus who transferred from South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, had 12 points in 27 minutes, both season highs.
"She's getting used to us more than we're getting used to her," Foley said. "I thought tonight she had some good moments, and I think you'll see her getting better and better."
Ronjanae DeGray and Kyra Collier each added 10 points for the Trojans, who entered the game 2-4 for the third consecutive season.
CENTRAL ARKANSAS 77, WILLIAMS BAPTIST 31
Taylor Baudoin led the University of Central Arkansas with 17 points, and 11 players scored in a blowout of Williams Baptist College on Monday night at the Farris Center in Conway.
Baudoin scored 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting in 20 minutes. Taylor Sells had 12 points in 26 minutes, shooting 6 of 6 from the floor. Angel Williams finished with 9 points on 3-of-3 shooting in 16 minutes.
As a team, Central Arkansas (4-2) shot 49.3 percent (34 of 69) from the floor and held Williams Baptist to 28.2 percent (11 of 39). UCA outrebounded Williams Baptist 45-20 and outscored Williams Baptist 62-10 in the lane. The Sugar Bears forced 24 turnovers and scored 24 points off turnovers.
Kate Junkersfeld, Ashlyn Ellis and Kiara Caswell led Williams Baptist (4-4) with five points apiece.
SAN FRANCISCO 78, CENTRAL ARKANSAS 76
Jordan Howard missed a three-pointer with three seconds left, preventing the University of Central Arkansas (4-4) from beating San Francisco on Monday.
After Chase Foster made one of two free throws with 15 seconds left, the Bears ran off 10 seconds before calling a timeout to set up a final shot, which Howard missed and Jordan Rathino rebounded.
Howard led the Bears with 27 points while making 8 of 16 shots from the floor, including 5 of 9 three-pointers. Mathieu Kamba had 16 points and five rebounds.
Rathino led San Francisco (3-3) with 17 points and 6 rebounds while making 5 of 11 shots from the floor, including 4 of 10 three-pointers. Frankie Ferrari added 15 points.
Sports on 12/05/2017
Print Headline: Townson's defense gets UALR rolling