And One: Delmonica DeHorney, Arkansas legend

Delmonica DeHorney. (photo courtesy of Razorbacks Athletics Communications)
Delmonica DeHorney. (photo courtesy of Razorbacks Athletics Communications) /
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Delmonica DeHorney. (photo courtesy of Razorbacks Athletics Communications)
Delmonica DeHorney. (photo courtesy of Razorbacks Athletics Communications) /

An Arkansas legend during the Southwest Conference heyday.

When I write about women’s basketball figures from the past, I try to find a way to connect them to the game today. This time, that fell squarely in my lap.

I had Delmonica DeHorney on my list of big postseason performers before I sat down to watch this year’s SEC Tournament. Of course Mississippi State ran roughshod over the field on the way to the championship, but the other compelling story line came from Arkansas.

Opposite the Bulldogs on the bracket, the 10-seeded Razorbacks pulled off three upsets (over Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas A&M) on the back of Oklahoma native and Sooner transfer Chelsea Dungee.

Dungee took her game to another level, earning All-Tournament honors after putting up a tournament-record 103 points in four games. She became the talk of women’s basketball fans and media over those few days.

She has a couple more years to make her mark in the SEC, but to this day the Razorbacks’ best Oklahoma native — and arguably their best player ever — is DeHorney, who led Arkansas through some of their biggest games and still has some of the greatest NCAA Tournament performances for the team out of Fayetteville.

More from History

At Class 3A Poteau High School in Oklahoma, DeHorney put up gaudy numbers, averaging over 30 points per game on better than 60% shooting her junior year, followed by a senior year with more than 40 points on average. Through 25 games that year, she averaged 41.1 points on 73% shooting from the field.

An elite athlete, she also competed in the shotput for the track-and-field team, competing at the state level her senior year.

In her final year, she was named a USA Today All-America honorable mention in basketball before she crossed state lines to compete at the University of Arkansas.

At that time the Lady Razorbacks competed in the Southwest Conference (SWC), which included all the big Texas schools. The Longhorns dominated the conference under legendary coach Jody Conradt, but Arkansas had been consistently competitive, finishing consistently in the top 3 in conference and with at least 20 wins every year since 1982.

Under coach John Sutherland, 6’3 DeHorney joined the starting lineup in the 1987-1988 season as a freshman, establishing a strong frontcourt presence at center alongside forward Shelly Wallace. Unfortunately, the Razorbacks lacked experienced depth that year, and the results reflected that.

They finished the season 13-15 overall and 8-8 in the Southwest, bumped in their first game of the conference tournament by Texas A&M.

DeHorney put up 14.6 points per game on a team-best 60.1% shooting from the field, also leading the team in shots from the free throw line, making 117 of 170 over the season. She added 6 rebounds and nearly 2 blocks per game.

Delmonica DeHorney. (photo courtesy of Razorbacks Athletics Communications)
Delmonica DeHorney. (photo courtesy of Razorbacks Athletics Communications) /

Though the team experienced a down year, DeHorney was recognized for her impact on the court. Unanimously voted SWC Newcomer of the Year, she was also named to the conference’s Second Team and honored by the American Women’s Sports Federation on the All-Freshman Team.

Hampered by injury prior to her sophomore season, DeHorney underwent arthroscopic knee surgery prior to the 1988-1989 campaign, so the year was mostly about recovery. She started just 4 games and her minutes dipped considerably, but the team overall benefited from increased experience that would add to their depth in the coming years.

“She had never been hurt before in her life,” Coach Sutherland told reporters at the time. “It’s been a struggle for her to come back and play like she did last year.”

With their former All-Freshman center playing backup, Arkansas still managed to make a big turnaround that year, finishing 22-8 and 13-3 in the SWC. The juggernaut Longhorns stood in their way, knocking them out of the conference tournament in a tight contest. The Razorbacks were chosen as an at-large team for the NCAA Tournament, but they were relegated to face off against the 5-seeded Purdue Boilermakers, who proved to be too much in a 91-63 loss to end DeHorney’s sophomore year.

That year was a net positive for the team, while DeHorney experienced a down year, but her junior year would be a huge bounce-back for both.