JONESBORO, Ark. (ASU) — The Arkansas State women's basketball team built a double-figure halftime lead before holding off a late rally by Louisiana-Lafayette to pick up a 55-52 Sun Belt Conference victory over the Ragin' Cajuns on Saturday at the Convocation Center.
The Red Wolves snapped a two-game skid and collected their second league victory, improving to 8-12 overall and 2-5 against Sun Belt opponents. A-State extended its winning streak against UL-Lafayette to eight games and now stands 7-5 in home games this year.
The Ragin' Cajuns suffered their ninth consecutive setback, falling to 5-14 overall while remaining winless in league action at 0-7.
ASU was led by Jane Morrill with a game-high 16 points, marking the 19th time over ASU's first 20 games the sophomore forward has scored in double figures. Junior guard Andi Watson pulled down a team and career-high eight rebounds to lead A-State on the boards.
With the scored tied 9-9 with 11:56 left in the first half, the Red Wolves went on a 9-0 run to grab a lead it wouldn't relinquish the rest of the game. ASU took a 29-18 advantage into the break and increased their lead to as much as 13 three different times in the second half.
"Certainly in the first half, I thought we were very, very good defensively," said ASU head coach Brian Boyer. "We held them to 18 points, so we did a really good job. The second half wasn't as good, but I do think we still challenged them defensively. I think our players did a good job of executing against Lafayette's zone. I think they worked hard and worked well against it. The bottom line was that their zone was packed in so tight that we had to hit perimeter shots against it. The five we hit, we had to have."
A-State led comfortably for most of the second half and held a 50-38 lead with 6:58 left in the game, but ULL went on a 14-3 run capped by a Krystal Motley three-pointer to cut its deficit to just 53-52 at the 1:09 mark.
ASU turned the ball over on its next possession, but ULL was unable to take advantage of the miscue with a turnover itself. Morrill, an 88-percent free throw shooter on the season, then set the final score with two successful attempts at the charity stripe with 12 seconds remaining. The Ragin' Cajuns Megan Whittaker was able to get away a desperation three as time expired, but the shot fell short.
"I don't fault the players," said Boyer when asked about ULL's comeback. "I thought the execution was there. We had a couple of shots that just rimmed out, and we got to the free throw line enough to hang on for the win."
While the Ragin' Cajuns finished with a .420 shooting percentage to A-State's .313 and posted two more rebounds (38-36), the Red Wolves scored 17 points off 22 ULL turnovers while committing just 13 themselves.
ASU also held the advantage in second chance points (13-12), points in the paint (24-20) and fast break points (8-4).
Hanna Qedan scored a career-high seven points for the Red Wolves as well, while Quinishia McDowell and Ashley Olvera added nine and eight points, respectively. Louisiana-Lafayette was led by Motley and and Whittaker with 11 points each, while Josie West hauled down a game-high 11 rebounds for the Ragin' Cajuns.
The Red Wolves will now hit the road for two consecutive games, taking on Denver Jan. 25 and North Texas Jan. 28. A-State will return to the ASU Convocation Center Wednesday, Feb. 1, hosting Louisiana-Monroe in a 7:05 p.m. SBC-West Division contest.