BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (ASU) – The Arkansas State women's basketball team picked up a pivotal win in its quest to win the Sun Belt Conference West Division with a 78-74 victory over Western Kentucky Saturday afternoon at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Arkansas State (13-11, 10-5 Sun Belt Conference) trailed 74-73 with 36 seconds left, but junior forward Jane Morrill gave A-State the lead for good on an old fashioned three-point play with just 18 seconds remaining. Morrill took a feed from senior point guard Ashley Olvera, hit the layup and drew the foul. She hit the free throw to give ASU a 76-74 lead.
On the ensuing Lady Topper (17-6, 10-4 SBC) offensive possession, Morrill stole the ball from WKU's Bianca McGee and was fouled with four seconds to go. She hit both free throws to give the Red Wolves a 78-74 lead and Western Kentucky failed to get a shot off before time expired to give ASU the win.
"We played really well," ASU head coach Brian Boyer said. "Offensively we got back to the team we were during the winning streak, but I think more importantly was this ability to rebound from a very tough loss Wednesday night. We were able to come together as a team and draw a line in the sand and say that's enough and they did a heck of a job coming back from that."
Morrill led ASU in scoring with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting. She also went 3-for-3 from the free throw line, all of which came in the game's final 20 seconds. Freshman forward Jalen O'Bannon added 20 points, while sophomore guard Hanna Qedan had 17 points, including three, 3-pointers.
The score was tied at 37-37 at halftime, but the Red Wolves took advantage of its size in the second half and worked the ball inside to Morrill and O'Bannon in the paint to build an eight point edge with 7:53 left in the game.
Western Kentucky slowly worked its way back into the game and tied the score at 67-67 with 2:25 to go. The Lady Toppers took their first lead since early in the second half on a bucket from Alexis Govan with 1:05 to go, but A-State answered with a layup from Morrill nine seconds later to retake the lead.
Govan responded for WKU with a jumper in the lane to put the Lady Toppers up 74-73 with 36 seconds left to setup ASU's final scoring sequence.
The game featured 16 lead changes and 10 ties but was decided on the final three possessions of the game, including a defensive stop by the Red Wolves with four seconds to go.
A-State shot 52.6 percent from the field and moved its record to 3-1 in games in which it shoots over 50 percent. A-State also outscored Western Kentucky 44-36 in the paint and the Red Wolves scored 19 points off the Lady Toppers' 16 turnovers.
The Red Wolves jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead to start to start the game, thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Qedan. Western Kentucky battled and pulled within 12-11 and from that point the lead did grow to larger than three for either team for the remainder of the first half.
The Red Wolves will return to action Wednesday, Feb. 13 for home game against Arkansas-Little Rock at the Convocation Center. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.