ATHENS, Ga. - Jessica Jackson scored a career-high 24 points and inspired a second-half rally, but missed opportunities late and free-throw line woes led to the University of Arkansas women's basketball team (14-4, 1-4 SEC) coming up short in a 60-58 loss to Georgia (13-5, 1-4 SEC) at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga., on Thursday.
After both teams traded leads early, it became a game of runs the majority of the first half as the Lady Bulldogs pulled away with a 13-2 run over a six-minute stretch to take a 20-11 lead by the 7:32 mark of the first half. The Razorbacks responded to a 10-0 run from UGA with a 7-0 run of its own, cutting the UGA lead to 27-18 by halftime. Head coach Tom Collen had called for more from his upperclassmen, to which Keira Peak and Calli Berna responded by scoring 11 of the team's 18 points in the first half. Peak was tied for a game-high seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, while Berna had an all-around performance with four points, three assists, three rebounds and two steals. UA shot just 36 percent in the first half to UGA's 46 percent.
The Lady Bulldogs upheld their hot shooting (52 percent) and pieced together a 9-2 run out of the break to push their lead to 36-20 with 17:48 to play. UGA continued to fend off the Razorbacks behind woeful UA shooting (37 percent), as the Lady Bulldogs laid claim to a 44-30 lead with 11:55 to play. Just five points in the first half, Jackson quickly rose to a game-high 18 points, as the freshman continued to fight to keep the Razorbacks in it at 47-37 with 7:30 left. Jackson kept scoring in bunches and the Razorbacks put together a 7-0 run over 1:40 to cut the UGA lead to just five at 49-44 with 5:27 to play. Having trailed by as many as 16 points, Berna hit a clutch three-pointer that brought UA back to within a one-possession game at 52-51 with 1:54 to play. Missed free throws and late miscues proved to be the difference, however, as the Razorbacks finished just 13-for-26 from the free-throw line on the night and the Lady Bulldogs held on for the win.
Jackson led all scorers with her career-high 24 points, while Peak (10 points) and Berna (12 points) also reached double figures. UA finished 42 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point range.
A furious second-half comeback from the Razorbacks nearly helped them erase a 16-point deficit, but late free throws proved the difference. UGA closed out the game with eight straight free throws and finished 61 percent from the charity stripe on the night, while UA was just 50 percent (13-26 FT).
Player of the Game
Jessica Jackson scored a career-high 24 points and helped inject motivation into the Razorbacks in the second half. The freshman was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free-throw line and 3-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Quoting Coach Tom Collen
"I went around the room in the locker room after the game and asked, 'Do you guys think you got better tonight?' The first answer was, 'Yes,' and the last response from freshman Jessica Jackson was, 'Yes, I got better coach.' Losses are tough, but this is a young team. They got down early and they really fought. That's all you can ask of your team. If they're going to get better everyday, take a loss and get better down the road then that's all you can ask for. We're going to look to go home now, host Ole Miss and right the ship."
Quoting PG-Calli Berna
"The numbers do show a pretty good game for us, but at the end of the day the wins are what matters. What we realize is that we grew up a little bit tonight. In the SEC you've got to just keep battling, keep your head down and work for everything. We banded together, saw adversity and I thought we overcame that and even though it didn't reflect that on the scoreboard, I felt that we did."
- With the 60-58 loss at Georgia, Arkansas has now playef five SEC games this season and all have been decided by seven points or less. The Razorbacks lost to No. 13/12 South Carolina by four, defeated Missouri by three, fell at Florida by seven and lost at ome to Mississippi State by four.
- Georgia averages 67.6 points per game and was held to 60 points by Arkansas. The No. 2 NCAA scoring defense of the Razorbacks has held opponents to a season-low scoring total 10 times this season.
- Arkansas forced Georgia into 21 turnovers while allowing just 20 field goals. The Razorbacks have now held 14 of 18 opponents this season to more turnovers than field goals.
- Upperclassmen Keira Peak and Calli Berna combined to score 11 of the team's 18 points in the first half. Peak was tied for a game-high seven points (3-5 FG), while Berna had four points by the break. Peak and Berna each finished in double figures.
- Jessica Jackson reached double-digit scoring for the 16th time in 18 games this season, scoring a career-high 24 points. The freshman was also a perfect 7-for-7 at the free-throw line. It marked the sixth time this season Jackson has shot 1.000 from the charity stripe. Jackson has scored 20+ points in three games this season.
- With the win, Georgia snapped a four game losing streak and put a stop to its worst SEC start in program history to 0-5. The Lady Bulldogs entered at 0-4, which marked the program's worst conference start.
- Tom Collen is 344-153 overall in 16 seasons as a head coach and 127-83 in seven years at Arkansas.
- Arkansas 4-28 all-time against Georgia including a 2-13 record in Athens.
@RazorbackWBB Postgame Tweetables (140 Characters Or Less)
- Come out to Bud Walton Arena on Sunday and help @RazorbackWBB right the ship against Ole Miss! Opening tip set for 2p. #GoHOGS #NeverYield
- Freshman @jessjack_00 scored a career-high 24 points on the road against Georgia. Come see @RazorbackWBB's one-time SEC Freshman of the Week honoree in action Sunday!
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Arkansas returns home to Fayetteville and welcomes Ole Miss to Bud Walton Arena on Jan. 19. Opening tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday.