Splendid Spencer: UA women roll past Stephen F. Austin

Arkansas guard Samara Spencer (2) reaches to score Monday, March 20, 2023, as Stephen F. Austin forward Avery Brittingham (11) defends during the first half of play in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today's photo gallery. .(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Samara Spencer had an extra bounce in her step Monday evening as she entered Walton Arena for the Razorbacks' second round Women's National Invitation Tournament matchup against Stephen F. Austin.

The energy was evident in warmups and translated into a big performance for the sophomore guard from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Spencer nearly outscored the Lumberjacks on her own, pouring in a game-high 27 points, and the University of Arkansas women's basketball team put on a defensive clinic to advance into the WNIT Super 16 with a 60-37 win over the Ladyjacks.

"I was feeling good, and think it's the hair," Spencer said playfully, sporting her natural hair with a headband. "I don't know, it might be some good juju in the hair. ... I mean, it does all start in warmups and, you know, even though we're in the WNIT, it's still postseason and we're still playing for something. Just being able to have that spunk and being able to put that into my teammates. ... It just made the day much better."

Stephen F. Austin (27-7) grabbed an early lead, going up 5-1 three minutes into the game, but it was short-lived. Arkansas took a 9-7 advantage when Saylor Poffenbarger hit the team's second three-pointer with 3:08 to play in first quarter.

The Razorbacks (23-12) never let the Ladyjacks creep back in. Arkansas went on a 14-0 run over a five-minute stretch to take a commanding 18-7 lead, highlighted by two Spencer three-pointers. The spurt set the tone for the game's remainder, starting on the defensive end for Arkansas.

For a second straight game, Arkansas set a new program low in points allowed during a WNIT contest.

"They were just in sync," Ladyjacks Coach Mark Kellog said of the Razorbacks' defense. "They were connected I thought defensively, challenging the majority of our shots. We just didn't have a lot of space, and their length takes that away from you."

The momentum carried into the second quarter, which Arkansas began on an 8-0 run thanks to two more three-pointers by Spencer, along with an Emrie Ellis layup.

Spencer finished 4 of 8 on three-pointers and made 9 of 11 free throws.

"I was a little worried there for a while we might not even outscore her," Kellogg said. "She was so hot there when she got going. She was special tonight.

The closest Stephen F. Austin got again was 11 points, trailing 29-18 at halftime. The Razorbacks outscored the Ladyjacks 31-19 in the second half, with 16 of Arkansas' points coming off offensive rebounds.

Arkansas outscored Stephen F. Austin 18-0 in second-chance points and hauled in 15 offensive boards. Razorbacks junior guard Rylee Langerman led the team with 10 rebounds, including four offensive.

"I honestly can't explain it," Arkansas Coach Mike Neighbors said of Langerman's ability to impact the game. "But it's also the kid that we saw when we were recruiting her. I've told y'all before that we weren't going to see her, and she just kept jumping off the page [saying], 'This kid just makes winning plays.' "

Makayla Daniels was second on the team with 11 points, and Jersey Wolfenbarger added nine points off the bench.

Arkansas will host Texas Tech at 7 p.m. on Friday, which advanced after defeating SMU 61-49.