JONESBORO, Ark. (AStateRedWolves.com) – Despite a valiant second half rally, the Arkansas State women's basketball team fell to Wichita State 60-51 before a crowd of 2,543 in its season home opener at the Convocation Center on Thursday night.
ASU (0-3) trailed by as many 17 in the first half, but the cut the lead to 37-34 with just over nine minutes left in the game. The Arkansas State defense led the comeback, forcing the Shockers into 18 turnovers on the night. Wichita State (1-1) pushed the lead back to 10 with 5:17 left in the game, but the Red Wolves pulled within 56-51 after a layup from Carlisha Wyatt with 1:38.
ASU could get no closer, however, as the Shockers went 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the final minute to extinguish the Red Wolves' charge.
"The start and the finish is what got us tonight," ASU head coach Brian Boyer said. "We looked shocked by their speed and athleticism and we froze up a lot offensively. The one thing we will continue to build on is our defense because that was a very good effort defensively by us."
Junior forward Jane Morril led A-State in scoring with 12 points, while senior guard Ashley Olvera added 11. Hanna Qedan scored nine points and went 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, while Wyatt finished with eight points.
Wichita State jumped out to a 26-9 advantage in the game's first 12 minutes before ASU began to slowly chip away the lead. Qedan hit a 3-pointer, her second of the first half, with 21 seconds left in the period cut the Shockers' lead to 31-23 heading into the break.
ASU opened the second half on 14-6 a run, which was capped by Qedan's third ‘3' of the game to pull the Red Wolves within 37-34. However, turnovers and free throw shooting plagued A-State late in the game.
The Red Wolves shot just 52 percent (13-25) from the free throw line and turned the ball over 20 times, which the Shockers converted into 21 points.
"There are things we have to resolve from tonight's game, but I am leaving here feeling better about things," Boyer said. "Wichita State is a very good team and could win the Sun Belt and I thought we competed, especially defensively, very well."
The Red Wolves will wrap up a two-game home stand on Monday against Southeast Missouri State. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m.