JONESBORO, Ark. (AStateRedWolves.com) – The Arkansas State women's basketball team won its seventh consecutive game with a 72-61 Sun Belt Conference victory over South Alabama Wednesday night at the Convocation Center.
Four A-State players scored in double-figures, led by sophomore Hanna Qedan with 16 points. Senior Quinishia McDowell added 14 points, while senior Ashley Olvera and freshman Jalen O'Bannon finished the night with 11 points each.
ASU improved to 12-9 overall and 9-3 in Sun Belt Conference play and maintained its two game lead over North Texas in the SBC West Division. South Alabama fell to 12-8 overall and 5-7 in conference play.
The Red Wolves started the game on a 21-5 run, going 8-for-10 from the field over the game's first seven minutes. A-State's quick start was aided by a pair of 3-pointers from Jane Morrill and Olvera, while Qedan helped ASU maintain a double-digit advantage for much of the period by scoring 11 first half points.
"This was a very important game for us and a very important win for us," ASU head coach Brian Boyer said. "We couldn't have asked for a better start. Offensively our tempo and our pace was really good. Defensively, one of our keys was to be aggressive and chase them off the 3-point line and we did that early enough that it allowed us to get out and get a big lead."
The Jaguars pulled within 41-35 to start the second half, but Olvera pushed the lead back to 11 with a 3-pointer with 11:53 to go in the game. From there, ASU continued to grow the lead and held its largest advantage at 68-49 with 4:44 to go.
ASU never trailed in the game and scored the most points of any team against the Jaguars this season. The Red Wolves shot over 50 percent from the field for the fifth time this season, finishing 26-of-47 (55.3) and also knocked down a season high eight 3-pointers.
ASU used ball screens early in the game to build a 16-point lead and took advantage of its size in the post. Olvera and McDowell knocked key jump shots from just outside the paint, while O'Bannon and Qedan scored buckets by driving into the lane and getting open looks.
"The biggest thing early on was just the pace of the game," Boyer said. "Midway through the first half I thought the pace dropped off a little bit, but we picked it up in the second half and set a lot better ball screens."
A-State controlled the pace of the game throughout and was able to sustain its lead by scoring points in transition in the second half.
Qedan scored in double-figures for the fifth straight game, while O'Bannon and Olvera have scored at least 10 points in each of their last three games.