By DUDLEY E. DAWSON
The first road game of Taliah Scott’s college career and the Razorbacks initial away contest went just fine on Friday night in Jonesboro.
Scott scored a career-high 34 points and Arkansas shook off a slow shooting start to down Arkansas State 82-67 before 3,208 fans at the First National Bank Arena.
Maryam Dauda added 11 points and 9 rebounds and Saylor Poffenbarger 9 points and 14 rebounds as the Razorbacks moved to 4-0 for the second straight season and three of the last five.
The Razorbacks – who hit all 12 of their free throws on the night – moved to 8-3 all-time against the Red Wolves, whose former mascot was the Indians.
Razorback head coach Mike Neighbors was obviously happy to get the road victory.
“I’m proud of them because it’s not easy to go on the road, period. You look around at what is going on around the country,” Neighbors said. “I knew [A-State] had a long break between their last two games. We were probably expecting a couple of unexpected things, which we got. I knew the crowd would be honest from the last time we were here.
“I thought it was a phenomenal atmosphere… I thought there was no panic when things were going, not bad, but just not our way… [A-State] has a real solid group and I’m anxious to follow them through their year and see how they do in their league. We have now played two teams in their league, so it will be fun to follow them.”
Arkansas also moved to 14-0 against in-states foes since 2019 when the Fayetteville school lifted a ban on playing in state programs.
“It’s just that they embrace this whole thing,” Neighbors said. “Most of these kids didn’t grow up in Arkansas, so they don’t get the whole ‘Why are we playing all these in-state schools? What’s the big deal about it?’ [Rather], I think that the fact they have embraced it, and they have said it’s important to us to play these games… It’s good for our state. It’s good for every high school team. It’s good for every grassroots program and every boys and girls club.
“… I’m glad that our non-Arkansas kids embrace that and accept it. They know it’s going to be hard… [A-State] has a good team, and I’m proud they don’t overlook anybody… Our kids probably have taught me a lot in that area.”
Scott was 12 of 21 from the field, 1 of 9 from 3-point range and cashed in all nine of her free throw attempts.
She also added 5 rebounds and 2 assists, but was charged with 9 of her team’s 15 turnovers in the game.
Neighbors credits veteran guards MaKayla Daniels and Samantha Spencer for mentoring Scott.
I’m really proud of Mak and Sam, and how they have taken that responsibility,” Neighbors said. “…Our group really talked to each other. I was really proud of the talk they had going into the locker room. I went down the tunnel to go talk, and I stopped short and waited a second to let them keep talking because I could hear it. Their tone was good. Their energy was good.”
Arkansas fell behind 11-5 while missing its first 11 3-point attempts, but would hit 10 of its next 26 treys.
Two of those were back-to-back ones off the bench by Emrie Ellis that turned a 32-28 lead into a 38-28 one with 2:08 left before halftime.
Arkansas State guard Izzy Higginbottom had 27 points to pace her squad and matched Scott’s 17 by halftime.
The Razorbacks led 42-33 entering halftime and 67-46 heading into the final stanza.
Arkansas State (1-2) lost for the third time in as many years to Arkansas, who last fell to the Red Wolves 94-71 in a 2005 WNIT second round game in Jonesboro.
Arkansas will return to action Monday when it hosts the University of Central Arkansas in a 7 p.m. contest at Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks will follow that up by traveling to Florida play in the post-Thanksgiving Elevance Health Women’s Fort Myers Tip Off.
Arkansas is set to face Wisconsin Friday at 1 p.m. CST at Suncoast Credit Arena.
The Razorbacks will play Saturday against either Marquette on Boston College in a 4 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. game.
Photo courtesy of Noah Southard