Little Rock, AR (SportsNetwork.com) – Marsha Howard had 19 points to lead No. 13 Arkansas to a 72-64 home win over Kansas State on Thursday night in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament.
Arkansas (28-5) plays South Carolina on Friday night for the right to go to the NCAA Tournament.
Taylor Shepherd added 17 points and Chanté Adams had 14 points and seven assists for the Razorbacks, who blew a double-digit lead early in the second half before moving back ahead.
Destiny Pitts paced Kansas State (19-15) with a career-high 18 points. The Wildcats, who last made the NCAA Tournament in 2014, have lost seven of their last nine.
Bianca Boggs’ dunk with just over a minute left cut Arkansas’ lead to 70-63, but Shepherd’s layup with 43 seconds left was all the Razorbacks needed.
A tip-in by Boggs pulled the Wildcats within two with 11.1 seconds left, but Howard sealed the win with two free throws.
The first three Arkansas baskets of the second half didn’t go down, though, as the Wildcats closed within 40-37 on a bucket by Boggs with 11:11 remaining.
Howard put the Razorbacks ahead 44-37 with a jumper with 9:59 left in the second half. Shepherd’s 3-pointer made it 51-38 with 7:39 left, before Kansas State cut the lead to 59-54 after two McNeese State players committed blocking fouls.
After another Shepherd 3-pointer extended the Razorbacks’ lead to 12, Emma McGannon’s layup brought the Wildcats within 65-58 with 3:33 left. Howard made a pair of free throws with 1:21 left, and the Wildcats trailed 68-62.
Florida put together a 12-1 run, capped by Kasey Hill’s 3-pointer, to take a 13-point lead with 8:41 left.
Arkansas used a 13-4 run to tie the game at 34-34 in the second quarter. Harris’ layup gave the Razorbacks their first lead of the second half after K-State had taken a three-point lead.
Harris scored six points as Arkansas closed the half with a 15-5 run. Shepherd closed the third with a jumper and a 3-pointer, giving the Razorbacks a nine-point lead going into the fourth.
Kansas State led most of the first half … Russell Woods scored 11 points to go with seven rebounds … Shepherd and Harris both had six rebounds … The Razorbacks shot 50 percent and blocked seven shots … F Abi Davis scored four points, all in the second half.