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Arkansas women try to bounce back against Cal

by Paul Boyd | December 5, 2021 at 3:36 a.m.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Mike Neighbors said his University of Arkansas women's basketball team was already moving forward from the tough one-point loss to Central Florida on Thursday night in Orlando, Fla.

"It's already started in that locker room," Neighbors said in a Zoom interview following the 52-51 loss. "Everybody's saying, 'Hey, let's learn from this.'

"If you're gonna lose, losing on the road is the best way to do it. You gotta get on that airplane or that bus together. At home, everybody scatters. When you lose on the road, it brings you together."

Neighbors said the Razorbacks (6-2) will look to move forward quickly to get ready to face California today at 1 p.m. in Walton Arena.

Arkansas struggled from three-point range against the Knights, making 9 of 31 and also failed to get to the free-throw line -- making just 6 of 8. But Neighbors said Central Florida had plenty to do with that.

"It was them being the aggressor," Neighbors said. "They were being aggressive on the dribble, on the glass."

That showed up with Central Florida getting to the foul line much more, making 19 of 28 and also outrebounding Arkansas, 39-31. But the big number was 16 offensive rebounds for the Knights, Neighbors said.

That was especially big since Arkansas held Central Florida to 33% (16 of 48) shooting and just 1 of 11 from three-point range.

"I think we guarded 'em," Neighbors said. "If you hold a team to 16 for 48 at the end of the day and 1 for 11, that's not too bad. But then you look at that next column over. That just jumps out at ya."

Neighbors said his team understood it was an underdog going against an experienced team, which made the NCAA Tournament a year ago and playing at their place. But the Razorbacks had a chance at a big win going into the final seconds.

"I think our kids will look at it as maybe a missed opportunity to beat a team that will surely be in the NCAA Tournament and probably be a pretty high seed," Neighbors said.

California (6-1) is led by freshman guard Jayda Curry. She averages a team-high 20.1 points per game. The Bears are off to a strong start, after struggling through a 1-16 season last season.

The Bears rallied for a 73-72 win over Fresno State on Thursday, after trailing by six points with 3 minutes, 35 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Their lone loss came to a familiar opponent for Arkansas in Ole Miss. The Rebels were too much for the Bears 64-45 at home last weekend.

"Covid was a really hard thing for the Pac-12," Neighbors said. "... I throw last year out."

Neighbors goes back to the matchup in 2019 at Cal that the Bears won 84-80 as more comparable.

The Razorbacks have showed off their depth thus early on, but junior guard Makayla Daniels played a season-high 36-plus minutes on Thursday and the starting five each played 28 minutes or more.

Daniels finished with a game-high 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting, a lone bright spot shooting-wise since the Razorbacks finished a season-low 18-of-50 (36%) as a team.

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