Reigning SEC Freshman of the Year Samara Spencer scored a game-high 26 points, made a key layup to increase her No. 21 Arkansas Razorbacks’ lead to 77-71 with 1:38 to go and got the defensive rebound at 39 seconds remaining that forced the No. 16 Creighton Bluejays to start fouling in what ended up being an 83-75 victory for the 13-0 Razorbacks at D.J. Sokol Arena in Omaha, Nebraska.
Spencer was 5-of-7 from distance with four boards and four helpers.
Creighton (8-2, 2-1 Big East) cut it to 77-73 on a Lauren Jensen basket and we all know how clutch she can be. It seemed as if perhaps it would be a trading-baskets duel between her and Spencer for the remaining 1:33.
The Bluejays had the chance to cut it to two, but Emma Ronsiek missed a jumper at the 40-second mark and Spencer got the rebound. Makayla Daniels then made two free throws at the 21-second mark to put the Razorbacks up 79-73. Creighton cut it to four once more, on Morgan Maly free throws with 19 seconds remaining, but, with the shot clock off, Arkansas pretty much just had to make its free throws to seal the victory. Jensen missed a three that would have cut it to three with 10 seconds left; that was the Bluejays’ last moment of hope.
Hope had crept back into the picture when they went on a 6-0 run that cut it to 75-71 with 2:29 to go. Before that, Arkansas had led by at least six since 3:42 in the third. A Maly three had cut it to 45-42 at the 7:10 mark of the third, but the Razorbacks went on a 13-5 run to lead 58-47 at 2:35 to go before the fourth.
Maly’s three capped a 7-0 Creighton run and got the Bluejays as close as they would get post-Arkansas’ 17-2 run that made it 45-35. Rylee Langerman started the run with back-to-back treys that gave the Razorbacks a one-point lead late in the first half. A Spencer three followed and left Arkansas up 37-33 at the break. That 9-0 stretch was followed by an 8-2 Arkansas stretch to start the third. Daniels’ three 58 seconds into the frame made it 45-35.
Spencer showed signs of having a big game up her sleeve with a 5-0 individual run to open the contest. She scored Arkansas’ first eight points. However, Creighton would lead 17-13 after one before a back-and-forth second quarter.
Maly had quite a game in defeat (24 points, nine boards, three assists, 12-of-12 effort from the free throw line), but was just 2-of-8 from 3-point range. Jensen and Mogensen were both 1-of-8 while Ronsiek was 1-of-5; the Bluejays were 8-of-35 as a team (22.9 percent). Arkansas was 12-of-26 (46.2 percent).
Saylor Poffenbarger backed up Spencer with 16 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Erynn Barnum added 15 points, four helpers, two steals and two blocks and Daniels was good for 14 points and three helpers.