Baker and No. 13 Wright State down No. 4 Arkansas 66-62
Arkansas came to the NCAA Tournament armed with a seasoned lineup forged in a tough regular season that included wins over UConn and Baylor.
Wright State came with scorer Angel Baker and an attitude that it was time to make history. Baker and the No. 13-seed Raiders did just that.
Baker’s 3-pointer with 29.1 seconds snatched the lead, and Jada Roberson’s two free throws with 8.1 seconds left sealed a 66-62 win over the No. 4 Razorbacks on Monday in the biggest upset of the first two days of the tournament.
The Raiders (19-7) pulled off the first win by a No. 13 over a No. 4 since 2012 and earned their first tournament win in school history. Coming into this year’s tournament, No. 13 seeds were just 9-104 all-time.
“It feels good man,” Baker said. “We made history for our program, for our university ... Definitely feel like we were underestimated. A lot of teams fail to realize numbers don’t mean nothing though, so they probably look at it like an underdog. We stepped up to the challenge.”
Baker averaged 25 points in carrying Wright State to the Horizon League tournament championship and scorched the Razorbacks for 26. Her 3-pointer from the right wing was the fourth lead change in the final two minutes.
The win wasn’t sealed until Roberson stepped to the line and made her only two free throw attempts of the game.
Chelsea Dungee scored 27 points for Arkansas (19-9) and gave the Razorbacks the lead at 59-58. But she left in tears as the Raiders closed out the victory and celebrated wildly on their bench at the buzzer.
“They trusted themselves and each other,” Wright State coach Katrina Merriweather said. “We are a driving, rebounding, defending team.”
This one had the making of an upset from the start, when the Raiders were the more aggressive and confident team in bolting to a big lead by the end of the first quarter. With Baker leading the way, Wright State then found the late counterpunches to respond as Arkansas rallied from 11 points down in the fourth quarter.
Baker did her work on both ends. She grabbed a critical defensive rebound off an Arkansas miss with 12 seconds left before a foul sent Roberson to the line for the two clinching free throws.
The Raiders’ only two previous trips to the tournaments ended in blowout losses.
“Wright State was clearly the better team from tip to buzzer,” Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said. “We may have taken a one-point lead at some time there in the fourth quarter, but they just put the ball in Baker’s hands and let her make us wrong, which she did a whole bunch.”
LONG RANGE WOES
Arkansas came to its first tournament since 2015 as one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country but was just 7 of 22 from long range, including 2 of 12 in the first half. Arkansas was able to rally in large part to 21-of-28 shooting on free throws.
“Today they just didn’t fall,” Dungee said. “We rely a lot on shooting the ball well, and that just didn’t happen today.“
BIG ON THE BOARDS
Wright State’s aggression had its biggest impact on rebounding, where the Raiders controlled the boards 44-30. Grabbing 15 offensive rebounds led to 14 second-chance points. They also scored 16 points off Arkansas turnovers.
“We can’t get out-shot and out-rebounded and have 15 turnovers,” Neighbors said.
Wright State advances to the second round to play the winner of the matchup between No. 5 Missouri State (21-2) and No. 12 UC-Davis (13-2)