FAYETTEVILLE – After Monday night’s season-opening 70-50 win at UAPB, Arkansas women’s head basketball coach Mike Neighbors joked with redshirt senior forward Eyrnn Barnum that she messed around and got a triple double.

The 6-2 Barnum had 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 missed free throws while going 3-of-13 from the charity stripe in the win over UAPB.

“I am just proud of Erynn,”Neighbors said. “I gave her a really hard time about going 3 of 13…After we went back and restated it, I told her that she had a triple double. She was really excited until I told her the third category was missed free throws.

“But she laughed about it and said ‘I am going to do better.’ She was – 9 for 9.”

Barnum bounced back in a big way Friday morning with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks while being perfect  from the free throw line in her team’s 72-34 win over the University of Central Arkansas.

McKayla Daniels added 14 points, 4 assists and 4 steals and 6-4 freshman Maryam Dauda 10 points and 5 rebounds as Arkansas moved to 2-0 with the win over the Sugar Bears.

The victory came before a raucous Elementary Day crowd of 7,410 fans, the 15th largest attendance in the program’s history and one that was bolstered by thousands of area students.

“I’d like to ask everybody to ask your questions at about eight decimals higher than you normally do because my ears are still ringing from the the first explosion of sound when our kids came out,” Neighbors said. “That is the loudest that it has been in here in a long time.

“It is great to have those kids back in here  after a few years of not being able to have that game (because of coronavirus). Our game day event and marketing people killed it. That was a lot a lot of fun for a lot of people today.

“I think it bothered us as much as it bothered them at first really to be honest with you.”

Arkansas led just 13-9 early before Jersey Wolfenbarger’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer and a strong second-quater showing pushed that margin to 35-14 by halftime.

That was even though the scoreboard said 35-17 when the two teams headed to the locker room.

“I walked in there at halftime and I was chewing them out pretty good and I looked down and saw they  (the Sugar Bears) were shooting 17 percent,” Neighbors said. “But it was at that I thought we could do even better.

“Then I walk out and we were better. There were only 14 points on the board because they took a 3 off at halftime (after a review). I didn’t think the speech was really that good.”  

Wolfenbarger’s 3-pointer from right corner seemingly woke up the home team as it went on to outscore UCA 19-5 in the second stanza.

“The momentum was big because I think that is what started it,” Neighbors said. “She had gotten two fouls in the backcourt because she was trying to hustle. One of my pet peeves about games is fouling in the backcourt. She knows it and was just trying to play hard. She had gotten two fouls in a row. 

“So for her to comeback and push that off and stick a three at the buzzer, that is growth for her. She has grown and matured in so many areas.”

Rylee Langerman added 9 points for Arkansas, Chrissy Carr 8 points and 8 rebounds, Wolfenbarger and Samara Spencer 5 points each and Saylor Poffenbarger 2 points and 7 rebounds.

Dauda, Langerman, Wolfenbarger headed up an Arkansas bench that outscored UCA 24-10.

Arkansas was 22 of 52 from the field (42.3 percent) overall,  but 11 of 23 in the final two quarters. 

It was 6 of 22 from 3-point range (27.3 percent) and 22 of 35 from the FT line (62.9 percent).

UCA was 12 of 55 on its field goal attempts (21.8 percent), 2 of 19 from 3 (10.5 percent) and 6 of 19 from the charity stripe (42.1 percent).

Arkansas had a 44-41 edge on the boards and forced 18 turnovers while committing 11.

Neighbors’ team had increased height and length on his roster this season so there is more balance inside and out instead of just being a free-wheeling 3-point shooting one.

“All you’ve got to do is look back at our first five years here we’re different,” Neighbors said. “I’ve been telling people all summer when you see us we’re going to be a little different because of that. We’ve got depth, balance and I don’t think we’ve got a 100-point game in us this year. Last year we had five or six because that’s what we did. Now we’re a lot better defensively. I am so proud of Erynn.”

UCA head coach Sandra Rushing knew what her team was getting into on Friday.

“I want our players to play on this stage because this is where we’re trying to get,” Rushing said. “We want to get to this level. It’s good for us. They’re bigger, faster and stronger. I do think their physicality wore on us.

UCA opened it season by losing 83-43 at Kansas State on Monday and will next be in action against visiting Lindenwood.

“We will break down this film just like we did K-State,” Rushing said. “It’s a lot of teaching. I thought it was really good the way they were jumping out aggressive on us. Knock us, hit us and make us tough. Those are things that will help us down the road.

“The truth is it’s coming Tuesday night for us. We’re playing Lindenwood at our place. We played K-State and Arkansas. Now let’s see where we are come Tuesday night.”

Parris Atkins and Kinley Fisher led UCA with seven points each while Kierra Prim added six points and nine rebounds.

Arkansas  will host Tulsa (2-0) on Monday night at 7 p.m. 

Tulsa has wins over Alcorn State (82-33) and San Jose State (74-44).

Photo by John D. James