Second Half Surge Lifts A-State Over Louisiana-Monroe - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Second Half Surge Lifts A-State Over Louisiana-Monroe

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MONROE, La. (ASU) – The Arkansas State women's basketball team won its second straight road game with a 77-58 victory over Louisiana-Monroe at Fant-Ewing Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

Freshman Jalen O'Bannon and junior Jane Morrill paced A-State with 20 points each, while senior point guard Ashley Olvera scored 18 points, dished out six assists, grabbed four rebounds and had five steals.

ASU improved its record to 14-12 overall and 11-6 in the Sun Belt Conference, while ULM fell to 8-18 overall and 5-11 in league play.

"It was a real good team win," ASU head coach Brian Boyer said. "We had a lot of players contribute in the game and I was really pleased with the way how we didn't panic after the slow start and the players just continued to make adjustments."

ASU led 37-32 at halftime and pushed the lead to double-digits just five into the second half. Olvera scored on a layup with 15:36 to play in the game to put the Red Wolves up 48-37 and the lead never fell below double-digits for the remainder of the game.

The Red Wolves pulled away in the second half thanks to big performances from Olvera and O'Bannon. The pair combined to score 26 of ASU's 40 points in the second half and helped A-State build a 16 lead with just over seven minutes to play.

The lead grew 67-49 after Sandy Jackson stole a pass from ULM's Elexar Tugler and passed it ahead to Khadija Brown-Haywood for the layup. ASU tied a season-high with 24 forced turnovers by its opponent and scored 28 points off those turnovers.

ASU also took advantage in the post, scoring 20 points in the second half in the paint, while also shooting 50 percent from the field in the half.

"We knew we had to get it inside and the post players just made some good plays," Boyer said. "We made good decisions when we had players double-teamed and I thought Ashley Olvera may have had one of her best games of her career at Arkansas State at controlling the game and pushing the pace when it needed to be pushed."

ASU trailed by as many as nine in the first half after the Warhawks started the game hitting 10 of their first 15 shots. Morrill hit the first of two 3-pointers in the first half with 11:30 to go in the half to pull the Red Wolves' within 20-14.

ASU pulled within 21-18 after Quinishia McDowell hit a pair of free throws, but Louisiana-Monroe extended lead to 26-18 with 6:32 left in the opening period. After trading baskets, ASU scored on three straight possessions to tie the score at 28-28 with 2:48 left to play in the half.

Khadija Brown-Haywood gave the Red Wolves' their first lead since the 19:24 mark of the first half with a layup to go up 32-30, but ULM responded with a jumper from Sharnice Brooks in the paint to tie the score for the sixth time in the first half.

Morrill sparked the Red Wolves heading into the halftime break by scoring five points in the final 44 seconds, including a 3-pointer as time expired to give A-State as 37-32 halftime lead. She finished the first half with 14 points, while O'Bannon had eight at the break.

The Red Wolves will play their final home game of the season Feb. 23 when they host Troy in a 3:05 p.m. Sun Belt Conference battle at the ASU Convocation Center.  Senior Day festivities will get underway approximately 15 minutes prior to tipoff, and the game has been designated as ASU's PinkZone game to promote cancer awareness.

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