By David Dawson
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - After seeing the Vanderbilt women erase a 22-point deficit, Arkansas' Malica Monk didn't leave the Commodores with any time to come back again.
With Vanderbilt owning a one-point lead in the final seconds, Monk came up with a loose ball and converted a layup as the final buzzer sounded, giving the Razorbacks a 57-56 victory on Monday night.
Jessica Jackson finished with a game-high 18 points for Arkansas (10-14, 5-6) before fouling out.
Rachel Bell scored 12 points to lead the Commodores (15-8, 4-6), who trailed 47-25 late in the third quarter before roaring back with a 24-2 run and eventually taking a one-point lead on two occassions in the final two minutes.
"I'll give our kids credit for battling back tonight," said head coach Melanie Balcomb. "But the thing is, we can't wait until we get down 12 points -- or in this case, 22 points -- to start playing with fire and energy. That's what disappointed me about tonight."
With Arkansas seemingly in complete control late in the third quarter, the Commodores began chipping away at a 22-point deficit by closing the period on an 8-2 run to trim the margin to 49-33. Vanderbilt then opened the fourth quarter with a 16-0 run -- which started and ended with baskets by Jasmine Jenkins -- to forge a 49-49 tie with 3:32 remaining.
"Once we got into our press, that's when we made our move," said Balcomb. "Jasmine Jenkins came in the game with a lot of energy and helped us get back in the game."
Vanderbilt's fourth quarter rally set the stage for a frantic finish that featured three lead changes and two ties in the final three minutes.
The Commodores took their first lead of the night on a free throw by Marqu'es Webb with 1:59 to go, but Arkansas quickly rebuilt a three-point lead after a basket by Jordan Danberry with 1:24 to go. Vanderbilt then fought back to tie the game again at 55-55 when Webb made two free throws with 55 seconds to play.
On Arkansas' next possession, Webb pulled down a defensive rebound with 31 seconds to go. After a timeout, Vanderbilt's Christa Reed was fouled with nine seconds to play.
Reed made the first free throw, but missed the second, and Arkansas' Khadijah West grabbed the rebound. On their final possession, the Razorbacks missed a pair of shots before Monk ended up with the ball after a loose-ball scramble, and she banked in her game-winner at the buzzer.
After a brief review of the replay by the officials, the basket was confirmed.
The victory enabled Arkansas to gain a measure of revenge after the Razorbacks saw a big lead slip away against the Commodores in a 55-53 loss last season in Nashville. In that game, the Razorbacks went the final 12:26 without a field goal -- missing their final 18 shots from the floor -- as Vanderbilt closed the game on a 20-7 run to rally for the win.
In Monday's game, the Commodores fell behind 18-5 in the first six minutes of the first quarter as Jackson scored six points -- making a 3-pointer and a conventional 3-point play -- to help the Razorbacks build the early lead.
But Vanderbilt charged back with a 13-2 run that started late in the first quarter and spilled over into the second. Rebekah Dahlman ignited the run with a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Bell added a couple of baskets, including a jumper that capped the surge and pulled Vanderbilt within 20-18.
Arkansas then closed the first half with a 9-2 spurt for a 29-20 halftime lead.
The Commodores were 9-of-22 from the floor in the first half, including just 1-of-4 from 3-point range. Reed, the Commodores' top scorer and ranked fourth in the nation in 3-point percentage, played just five minutes in the opening half due to foul trouble.
Vanderbilt finished just 9-of-15 at the foul line and 3-of-9 from 3-point range. Arkansas won the rebounding battle, 34-28.
The Commodores host rival Tennessee on Thursday night.