Categories
Hogs Women's Basketball

Wolfenbarger commits to Razorbacks over some of top teams in nation

Mike Neighbors got the best 2021 player in Arkansas to stay home when Fort Smith Northside’s Jersey Wolfenbarger committed to Fayetteville and it’s a really big one.

Wolfenbarger, who has grown nearly a foot, made the announcement on Twitter on Monday afternoon:

She is the first commitment for the 2021 class.

Categories
Hogs Women's Basketball

Neighbors’ uncut teleconference on Slocum, variety of subjects Thursday

Arkansas women’s basketball coach Mike Neighbors covered just about everything from finally landing graduate transfer Destiny Slocum to shaving his head and Vic Schaefer leaving Mississippi State for Texas.

Categories
Hogs Women's Basketball

Neighbors adds All-Pac 12 guard as graduate transfer from Oregon State

With Alexis Tolefree running out of eligibility, Mike Neighbors needed some help immediately and may have added it with All-Pac 12 guard Destiny Slocum announcing she’s headed to Arkansas.

Slocum made the announcement via Twitter on Saturday:

Slocum was the National Freshman of the Year in 2017 at Maryland. Following that season at Maryland she opted to transfer to Oregon State.

After sitting out the 2017-18 season, she has been a starter the past two years for the Beavers, averaging 15.4 points and 4.5 assists as a redshirt sophomore, and 14.9 points and 4.7 assists this season.

Tolefree averaged 16.3 points a game this past season as the Razorbacks had a 24-8 record but was denied a bid in the NCAA Tournament with the postseason cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic

Categories
Hogs Women's Basketball

Gaulden joins Doumbia in Hogs entering NCAA’s transfer portal

While the world of college sports has ground to a halt with the national health emergency, the mysterious NCAA transfer portal is still spinning and Arkansas’ A’Tyanna Gaulden has put her name into it.

This has been previously reported at multiple media outlets, including HawgBeat.com on Thursday.

It will be the third school for Gaulden, who transferred from Florida State, sat a year and has been a key role player for Mike Neighbors coming off the bench behind Malika Monk last year, then Makayla Daniels this past season.

The Razorbacks’ Rokia Doumbia had previously entered the portal, which Neighbors confirmed earlier in the month.

Gaulden led the Hogs this past season with 100 assists despite never starting and averaging 16.8 minutes per game, 6.9 points, with a 17-point effort at Florida.

Doumbia was an ESPN four-star prospect coming out of the IMG Academy in Florida in 2018, but didn’t play much as a freshman. From Mali in West Africa, the 5-foot-9 guard averaged 3.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 16.3 minutes as a sophomore this season.

Neighbors has already signed Elauna Eaton, Rylee Langerman and Destinee McGhee in this year’s signing class and now four spots are open on the roster with seniors Alexis Tolefree and Kiara Williams leaving.

That is, of course, pending official NCAA notification of granting extra eligibility due to the coronavirus situation knocking out NCAA tournaments and other events affecting college basketball.

Categories
Hogs Women's Basketball

Razorbacks’ Tolefree named All-American finalist for Division I Region

FAYETTEVILLE — Senior guard Alexis Tolefree was named a 2020 Division I Region All-American Finalist, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association announced Wednesday.

Tolefree was one of 52 players selected, and will be considered for the WBCA’s NCAA Division I All-American Team. The 10-member team will be announced on Thursday, April 2.

Tolefree’s breakout senior season was nothing short of spectacular.

She averaged career highs across the board, pouring in 16.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game, all while shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from three.

Tolefree was even better in conference play, averaging 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game, shooting the ball at a 41.6 percent clip from the field and at a 38.9 percent clip from deep.

Tolefree led the team in scoring and in steals in SEC play, and her scoring average in conference only games was the third best mark in the league.

The senior guard seemed to always be at her best when it mattered most, as she had several huge second half performances in games the Hogs would end up winning.

Most notably, Tolefree dropped a career-high 35 at Missouri, 23 of which came in the second half in Arkansas’ epic 13-point comeback. She also scored 30 against then-No. 15 Kentucky, including 25 in the second half, in a game in which the Razorbacks would set a program record for most points scored against an SEC opponent.

Tolefree scored in double figures in 25 of Arkansas’ 32 games, scored 20+ 12 times, and dropped 30 or more four times, the most on the team.

Three of her 30-plus came during conference play, while she also had 30 against Auburn in the first round of the SEC Tournament.

Tolefree is among elite company, as the following players joined her on the Region Two team: Aliyah Boston (South Carolina), Jessika Carter (Mississippi State), Chennedy Carter (Texas A&M), Rennia Davis (Tennessee), Tyasha Harris (South Carolina), Rhyne Howard (Kentucky), Rickea Jackson (Mississippi State), Erica Ogwumike (Rice) and Chelsey Perry (UT Martin).

Categories
Hogs Women's Basketball

Razorbacks’ Tolefree on radar to be drafted; Doumbia enters transfer portal

With Arkansas’ post-season plans de-railed in women’s basketball due to the suspension caused by the COVID-19 national emergency, Mike Neighbors is still going to use the No. 24 ranking to his advantage.

“We’ll find every way to spin it possible,” he said Tuesday evening as he’s still staying busy.

The Associated Press final poll released earlier in the day put the Razorbacks just inside the Top 25 (South Carolina was No. 1, which was not a surprise). That is a step forward for Neighbors after his third season.

“That’s one way to stay in the poll,” he said. “We still would have rather gone into the tournament and tried to improve on that, but I think it’s only happened one other time.”

It is something he can use talking to recruits, which is still on-going despite the fact no coaches can go see players or have them on campus.

“It’s a dead period, not a shutdown,” Neighbors said. “We can send them social media messages, texts. We never blow them up on that stuff anyway, but we’ve got some good players that want to play for us.”

What will nag at Neighbors with the abrupt ending to the season, however, is seniors Alexis Tolefree and Kiara Williams not getting to play in the NCAA Tournament, something that both of them wanted badly.

Both are still considering their options. For Williams, graduate school is a possibility. Tolefree may keep playing basketball.

“The people I’m talking to think Alexis has a good shot at getting picked in the draft,” Neighbors said. “Kiera’s not exactly sure what she wants to do.”

Neighbors is on the committee for the Wade Trophy and some committees, which are meeting via the telephone. Forget the annual convention because that’s been cancelled.

“You learn all kinds of stuff at that,” he said. “We’re still busy with meetings and evaluations.”

He would rather be busy playing games, but that’s not in his control.

Neighbors also confirmed sophomore Rokia Doumbia has entered the NCAA’s transfer portal, which has been talked about now for a few days.

“That’s the first kid we’ve had go into it,” he said about a player that had increased playing time of the course of the season. “But we’ve got some players in it that we’re talking to as well.”

Categories
Hogs Women's Basketball

Razorbacks finish No. 24 in last media poll, which will be final rankings

Dawn Staley and South Carolina are No. 1 in the final Associated Press women’s basketball poll for the first time in school history while Arkansas placed 24th and fans will be left wondering “what if …”

Other SEC teams in the final poll included Mississippi State (9), Kentucky (16) and Texas A&M (18).

Razorbacks coach Mike Neighbors had expressed earlier his disappointment that his seniors, Alexis Tolefree and Kiara Williams, would not be able to play in an NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA Tournament, along with other sports across the world, have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 emergency.

The Gamecocks received 26 first-place votes from the national media panel in voting released Tuesday. No. 2 Oregon garnered the other four votes. Baylor, Maryland and UConn rounded out the top five.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this story.

Categories
Hogs Women's Basketball

South Carolina too much for Razorbacks to handle in SEC Tournament semifinals

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Arkansas’ run in the 2020 SEC Tournament came to an end Saturday night in a 90-64 loss to South Carolina.

The Gamecocks advance to the championship game to face Mississippi State while Arkansas awaits its NCAA Tournament fate.

Redshirt junior guard Amber Ramirez returned to form against the Gamecocks, leading the Hogs with 18 points, making six three-pointers in the game.

Ramirez’s six treys in the game gives her 106 on the season, the most ever by a Razorback in a single season, breaking Wendi Willits’ record of 104. That record had stood at Arkansas since 1999.

Freshman guard Makayla Daniels had another big game, going for 16 points, two assists and three rebounds, while Chelsea Dungee reached double figures once again, going for 12 points.

Key point of game

Down 19 at halftime, the Hogs once again came out of the intermission with purpose, opening the third quarter on a 12-0 run, cutting the Gamecock lead down to just seven on a lay-in from A’Tyanna Gaulden.

Gaulden, Dungee, Ramirez and Alexis Tolefree would all contribute during the burst.

Carolina responded by going on a 12-0 run of its own to push the lead back out to 19 by the end of the quarter.

Highlights for Hogs

• Ramirez’s 106 threes are the most ever by a Razorback in a single season. She needs just seven more to break the SEC’s record for threes in a single season (112).

• Daniels’ 16 points marked her second straight tournament game going for double-figures.

• Taylah Thomas led the Hogs on the glass, pulling down six rebounds.

Next game

The Hogs await their seeding in the NCAA Tournament. Selection Monday is scheduled for March 16 at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

Information from Razorback Sports Communications is included in this story.

Categories
Hogs Women's Basketball

Razorbacks shock Texas A&M to advance to SEC semifinals Saturday

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Arkansas completed the second-largest comeback in SEC Tournament history on Friday afternoon, storming back from 17 down to stun No. Texas A&M, 67-66.

Arkansas led for just over eight seconds. Two huge Kiara Williams free throws with 8.6 ticks left on the clock proved to be the difference.

Freshman guard Makayla Daniels played a great game under huge pressure, leading Arkansas with 13 points.

Daniels was also tasked with guarding first team All-SEC guard Chennedy Carter, who would finish the game with 23 points, but only made nine of her 20 shot attempts.

Williams was fantastic all game as well, going for 11 points and four rebounds, all of which were on the offensive glass, off the bench. She also collected two steals and an assist.

Key point of game

The Hogs were slow out of the blocks once again in this game and trailed 24-10 after the first quarter.

The Razorbacks chipped away in the second quarter, but trailed at halftime, 38-26.

The Hogs punched back in the third quarter, though, opening the frame on a 10-2 run to cut the lead down to just four with 8:07 to play and the Aggies led going into the final quarter, 51-46.

The fourth quarter started with the Aggies reextending their lead, pushing it to seven with 8:19 left to play.

The Hogs kept coming, though, pulling to within two several times down the stretch. A floater from Amber Ramirez with 1:07 left would cut the lead to one and a stop on the other end gave Arkansas a chance to take its first lead of the game.

Following a Carter turnover, Williams made the play of the game, grabbing two offensive rebounds, one off her own miss, before getting fouled on her second shot attempt.

The senior would calmly knock down both free throws to give Arkansas a 67-66 lead with just over eight seconds to play. Carter had a look to win it, but a great contest from Rokia Doumbia forced the miss.

Razorbacks’ highlights

• Arkansas’ 17 point comeback was the second largest in tournament history. The Hogs came back from 16 down last year vs. A&M at the SEC Tournament.

• Arkansas’ All-SEC duo of Alexis Tolefree and Chelsea Dungee both got into double figures, going for 11 and 12 points, respectively.

• Dungee led the Hogs on the glass, pulling down five rebounds, while Tolefree led the team in assists, dishing three of them.

South Carolina next

The Hogs advanced to the semifinals, meeting No. 1 South Carolina for the third time this season.

That game will tip Saturday at 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU.

Information from Razorback Sports Communications is included in this story.

Categories
Hogs Women's Basketball

Tolefree, Dungee pace Razorbacks past Auburn to start SEC Tournament

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Arkansas got a combination of 53 points from Alexis Tolefree and Chelsea Dungee and rolled over Auburn, 90-68, for a fast start in the SEC Tournament on Thursday afternoon.

They set a tournament record for the most three’s made in a game (17) and now have won at least one game in the tournament for the third year in a row for the first time since 2001-03.

For Tolefree, she nearly set the SEC record (8) for three’s by a single player, hitting seven on her way to her fourth-career 30-plus point performance. Dungee picked up right where she left off in last season’s SEC tournament, going for 23 points on an ultra efficient nine-of-14 shooting, including 5-of-8 from deep.

Game’s key point

Auburn got off to a hot start in this game, opening the game on an 8-0 run. It was the second time Arkansas got down early to the Tigers this season.

Tolefree kept the Hogs afloat in the first, scoring nine of the Hogs’ 11 first-quarter points.

The slow start didn’t last. Arkansas started to roll in the second quarter, winning the period 26-10. The hammer was dropped near the end of the first half, as the Hogs went on a 20-3 run.

Tolefree and Dungee did most of the damage in the period, scoring 18 combined points. Senior forward Kiara Williams also had six in the frame.

Game highlifhts

• Arkansas’ 17 three’s in the game matched a program record. The Hogs also made 17 earlier this season against Oral Roberts.

• The Hogs had 25 assists against the Tigers, the most as a team since they had 25 against Vanderbilt back in 2018.

• With her nine points against the Tigers, Amber Ramirez crossed the 1,000 point threshold. She now has 1,008 career points.

• Dungee’s five threes in the game matched a career-high.

• A’Tyanna Gaulden stuffed the stat sheet for the Hogs, scoring 4 points, dishing six assists and grabbing six rebounds.

• Rokia Doumbia also had a very well-rounded outing, going for six rebounds, five points and four assists.

Next game

The fifth-seeded Hogs move on to face fourth-seeded Texas A&M, a rematch of this season’s SEC opener.

That game will tip-off at approximately 1 p.m. and will air on the SEC Network.

Information from Razorback Sports Communications is included in this story.