JONESBORO (ASU) – The Arkansas State women's basketball team (10-9, 3-3) rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit to make its game against Sun Belt Conference foe Middle Tennessee (14-4, 5-0) close at the end, but the Blue Raiders were able to hold off the Red Wolves' surge to pick up a 57-52 win at the Convocation Center Sunday afternoon.
Senior forward Shay Scott posted her 10th double-double of the season, recording 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. She was one of four A-State players scoring in double figures, including freshman forward Jane Morrill with a game-high 15 points, Quinishia McDowell with 11 and Jazmine Taylor with 10.
Middle Tennessee shot 44 percent from the field in the first half and outrebound ASU 21-16 as it built a 32-20 lead at the break, but the Red Wolves limited the Blue Raiders to a .360 field goal percentage and grabbed 11 more rebounds in the second half to get as close as two points late in the game.
The Blue Raiders opened up a 35-20 lead, its largest of the game, just over one minute into the second half before A-State went on a 13-1 run to make the score 36-33 with 14:01 left. However, Middle Tennessee turned right back around and scored nine consecutive points, all from beyond the arc, to push its lead back to double figures at 45-33.
After both teams traded buckets for the next two minutes, A-State started another run that would eventually put it in a position for a possible game-tying shot with under 10 seconds left.
Trailing 49-39 at the midway point of the second half, the Red Wolves went on a 10-2 run to pull within 51-49 at the 4:44 mark. While A-State wouldn't get any closer, it cut Middle Tennessee's lead in half when Morrill hit a three to make the score 55-52 with 38 seconds remaining.
ASU rebounded a missed three on Middle Tennessee's next possession to give it an opportunity to go for a possible game-tying three pointer or to cut its deficit to one. However, Middle Tennessee's Anne Marie Lanning stepped in front of an A-State pass with three seconds left in the game and then hit a pair of free throws to seal the outcome.
"I'm disappointed in the outcome, but there are certainly some positives to take out of this," said ASU head coach Brian Boyer. "I thought our effort and our focus from start to finish was good today. Our effort today beats a lot of people, but unfortunately it didn't beat Middle Tennessee."
"I thought even in the first half, we played well and we played strong," added Boyer. "We just missed way too many easy shots. That was the challenge at halftime, to keep doing what we were doing and not let up, just finish the shots."
ASU finished the game with a .339 field goal percentage to Middle Tennessee's .407. The Red Wolves held a six-rebound advantage on the boards, 42-36, and forced the Blue Raiders into three more turnovers.
Despite shooting just 27 percent from beyond the arc, Middle Tennessee was able to hit eight three's to ASU's two. ASU made 8-of-13 shots at the charity stripe, while the Blue Raiders made 5-of-9 attempts.
The Red Wolves return to action Wednesday, Jan. 19, with an 8:00 p.m. (CST) game at Denver.