Jonesboro (KAIT) – The Arkansas State women's basketball team (12-16, 7-1) had four players score in double figures and held New Orleans (10-18, 4-13) to just a .231 shooting percentage and 17 points in the second half to turn a one-point halftime lead into a convincing 67-52 victory in a Sun Belt Conference West Division game at the Convocation Center Wednesday night.
Shay Scott and NeNe Hurst both scored a game-high 16 points to lead the Red Wolves, while Ebonie Jefferson and Quinishia McDowell joined them in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Jefferson finished with a team-high five assists as well and narrowly missed her third double-double of the season with eight rebounds, also the most on the team.
The game featured 11 lead changes and four ties before the Red Wolves claimed the lead for good on a three-point basket by McDowell just over two minutes into the second half that made the score 41-39. The bucket started a 9-0 run for ASU that ended on a lay-up by Scott that took the Red Wolves lead to 49-41 with 14:40 left in the game.
The Privateers were able to cut the Red Wolves lead back to four points twice, the last 56-52 with 5:26 remaining. However, ASU tacked on 11 more points while hold UNO scoreless the rest of the way to finish strong.
"It was certainly a different feeling from half to half," said ASU head coach Brian Boyer. "I was not very happy with the first half, especially on the defensive end. We really challenged them at halftime. New Orleans averages around 54 a game and they were on track to score 70 at halftime. I was proud of the team and the way they responded defensively in the second half. There was nothing that we did to adjust, we just played a lot harder and a lot smarter defensively and were able to hold them to 17 in the second half."
After shooting 42 percent in the first half, UNO's shooting percentage dropped dramatically over the final 20 minutes and the Red Wolves forced the Privateers into five of their 19 turnovers over the decisive 5:26 to end the game. While ASU connected on just 2-of-9 shots from beyond the arc, it shot 41 percent from the field and made 75 percent of its free throws.
UNO held a 38-37 advantage on the boards, but committed 10 more turnovers. ASU finished with five more steals and one more assist than UNO. The Privateers built a 26-19 lead, its largest of the game, just over 10 minutes into the contest and led 33-27 with 3:35 left before the break. ASU responded with a 9-2 run to close the first half and take the momentum going into the locker room.
UNO was led by three players scoring in double figures, including Rachele Monroe with a team-high 13 points. Talisha Bridges and Mirjam Sipos added 10 points each for UNO, while Ashley Gorsh pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
ASU closes out its regular season Saturday, Feb. 27 with a 3:05 p.m. game against Troy at the Convocation on the Red Wolves' Senior Day.