BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
The Arkansas women’s basketball team is leaving the U.S Virgin Islands undefeated, some hardware and a statement made.
Chrissy Carr had 18 points, Erynn Barnum 17 and MaKayla Daniels added 13 and nabbed MVP honors as the Razorbacks whipped No. 25 Kansas State 69-53 Saturday night to win the Paradise Jam Reef Division in St. Thomas.
Saylor Poffenbarger added 9 points and 6 rebinds and Samara Spencer 8 of each as Arkansas moved to 8-0 on the season and handed Kansas State (7-1) its first loss of the season.
“Three games in three days against increasingly difficult situations and teams and we just continued to get better and make improvements,” Neighbors said. “That was maybe our most complete game this season against a really good team.”
Daniels joined Carr on the All-Tournament team.
“If I could sum it up in one word, I would says it is fun,” Daniels said. “This whole trip was just supposed to be fun and of course we had to take care of business, but not many people get to come to the Virgin Islands and play basketball.
“I think we just had fun out there all three days.”
Neighbors was glad to see Daniels get that recognition.
“I am proud of her and for her,” Neighbors said. “We have talked about it for years that she doesn’t get the awards that she deserves…but it’s better to get ones than not get the ones you didn’t earn. She certainly earned it in the this tournament and over the course of her career.”
Neighbors lauded Poffenbarger for limiting Gabby Gregory – one of the nation’s top 10 scorers this season – to just 5 points on 1 of 10 shooting from the field.
Gregory had 33 points in her team’s win over Clemson on Friday night.
“And she wasn’t guarding her when that (shot) went in, that was somebody else,” Neighbors said. “I knew she could do it and it was going to be hard and we would have two sacrifice some of her offense, but she just stepped up and accepted that challenge and she was unbelieveable.
“I have watched Gabby Gregory sine he was in the eighth grade and I’ve never seen anybody shut her down like that. I know she got banged up, but Saylor did a heck off a job.”
Arkansas led 15-13 at the end of the first quarter and 38-25 at halftime before grabbing complete control after intermission.
The Razorbacks buried six 3-pointers in the third quarter alone and eventually pushed their lead out to 62-38 late in that stanza.
Arkansas downed Northern Arizona and Clemson it its first two games.
“We were dead tired and that is the first time in my six years as Arkansas coach that we have walked the ball up the floor for an extended period of time,” Neighbors said. “But that’s what we had to do tonight to get through three games in three days.”
Neighbors was thrilled with the trip overall.
“I said on the pregame radio show before the game started that I wanted it out there, that regardless of the outcome of this game, there is not a team down here in either division that got more out of the trip or the three games of the trip than we did,” Neighbors said.
“There were some moments on the Catamaran and going out snorkeling – and we snorkeled today and had some people that didn’t think that was a good idea, but it was a good idea because of that we got to do on that boat together…We had a really good week down here.”