By Kevin McPherson
NORTH LITTLE ROCK — No in-state Division 1 basketball program had ever swept the other four in-state D1 schools in the same season, but the Arkansas Razorbacks women completed the quadfecta with an 82-44 win over the Central Arkansas Sugar Bears on Saturday at Simmons Bank Arena.
Arkansas (10-2) has defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Arkansas State, Little Rock, and UCA by a combined total winning margin of 138 points. The Razorbacks also have an exhibition win against in-state D2 Arkansas-Fort Smith, 114-55, on their 2021-22 resume.
“Everything we hoped that the trip to Little Rock would be,” Arkansas head coach Mike Neighbors said in the post-game press conference. “A chance to play in front of fans down here that don’t get a chance to see us, some for the first time. A good opponent coming out of finals. To have focus and go through (finals), and then get ready for a game.
“So, for us to play the way we did, I think from the middle of the first quarter all the way on, really really excited, happy. I thought everbody contributed, every lineup was efficient, balanced. I think it kind of puts a nice 11-game bow on how this team is starting to come together.”
Sophomore guard Sasha Goforth was a difference-maker at both ends of the floor and finished with 17 points (4-of-6 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3, and 7-of-7 free throws), 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks to pace the Hogs.
Freshman Jersey Wolfenbarger was a force as well as she tallied a career-high-matching 16 points (7-of-8 field goals, including 2-of-2 from 3), 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal.
Wolfenbarger talked about her inside-out production and efficiency, as well as the opportunity to play in front of fans in central Arkansas.
“We’re kind of down numbers (due to injuries), and so me being versatile I made sure to put myself in a position to help my teammates,” Wolfenbarger said. “Not only do well myself, but make sure that whatever I’m doing benefits the team.
“I think we just acquired a lot of new fans. A lot of people haven’t gotten to see us because we’re in Fayetteville. So from this area, they don’t necessarily get to come to every home game … To give them a taste of what we are, and the standard we hold ourselves to, it was really exciting. I was grateful to be a part of it.”
Freshman guard Samara Spencer contributed 15 points and a game-high 6 assists, and junior guard Makayla Daniels reached double-figure scoring with 11 points to go with a game-high 6 steals, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Junior forward Destinee Oberg had 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Arkansas shot 50% from the field, including 11-of-26 from 3 for 42.3%. The Hogs made 15-of-22 from the free throw line for 68.2%. Defensively, Arkansas held UCA to 29.8% shooting from the field, including only 2-of-7 from 3 for 22.2%. The Sugar Bears made 8 of their 12 free throw attempts for 66.7%.
The Razorbacks won turnovers (21-8), points-in-the-paint (30-18), fastbreak points (14-4), rebounds (38-35) bench scoring (20-17), and second-chance points (10-8).
UCA (4-6) was led by Lucy Ibeh’s 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals. Hannah Langhi chipped in 8 points and 2 rebounds.
Spanning the last three seasons, Arkansas is 8-0 against in-state D1 programs.
Arkansas remains unblemished this season in 10 games played within the borders of the home state while improving to 2-2 in road / neutral-site matchups.
Next up for the Razorbacks is their final non-conference game — against Creighton at 1 p.m. on Tuesday at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville — before opening up SEC play on the road against Ole Miss on Dec. 30.
Arkansas started Goforth, Wolfenbarger, Spencer, Daniels, and Rylee Langerman.
With Goforth scoring in a variety of ways and Wolfenbarger having her way around the basket, Arkansas strung together runs of 14-2 (first quarter) and 15-4 (second quarter) in building a 35-18 lead.
But UCA struck back with a 10-0 spurt to pull within 35-28 late in the second quarter.
That’s when Goforth personally outscored the Sugar Bears, 7-1, to send the Hogs into the break with a 42-29 lead.