ASU rally falls short as Denver holds on for 65-60 victory

DENVER, Colo. (12/30/09) - Down by 17 with just over eight minutes to play, the Arkansas State Red Wolves rallied to within three points in the final minute, but could not complete the comeback as the Denver Pioneers held on for a 65-60 victory Wednesday night in a Sun Belt Conference West Division matchup at Magness Arena.

Cold shooting plagued Arkansas State (5-8, 0-2) from the beginning as the Red Wolves hit just three of their first 18 shots in the game. The Red Wolves did not get on track offensively until late, connecting on just 28.8 percent of their shots from the floor on the night.

Trailing 53-36 with 8:02 remaining, the Red Wolves went on a 24-12 run in the final minutes of the game, cutting the Denver lead to seven at 58-51 when sophomore guard Meghan Lewis knocked down a three pointer with 3:54 to play, then added a pair of free throws less than a minute later.

"Very proud of our effort late," said ASU head coach Brian Boyer. "We are making a run and I'm thinking how proud I am of our team. All of a sudden I'm thinking that I'm really proud of our team because we were in it with a chance to win. We cut the lead to seven, then had three straight possessions where we missed on two shots and lost one out of bounds that could have cut the lead to five with three minutes to play. We just dug ourselves too deep of a hole."

The Red Wolves made it a six-point game on a jumper from senior Ebonie Jefferson with 44 seconds remaining, then cut the Denver lead to four on a layup from freshman Quinishia McDowell with 17 seconds to play, but Denver hit four-of-four free throws in the final seconds to secure the win.

Jefferson led ASU with 14 points on the night, followed by Lewis and sophomore NeNe Hurst with 13 each. Junior guard Britteni Rice led Denver with 20 points on the night.

Despite shooting just 16.7 percent in the first eight minutes of the game, the Red Wolves trailed by just three at 12-9, but Denver outscored ASU 9-4 over the next four minutes to go up by double-digits on a jumper from forward Brianna Culberson with eight minutes to play in the half. The Pioneers maintained their 10-point lead for the remainder of the half, taking a 34-24 lead into the locker room at the break.

Arkansas State will be back on the court Saturday, Jan. 2 when the Red Wolves host the Mean Green of North Texas in a 3:05 p.m. game at the ASU Convocation Center.

ASU Sports Information