COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AStateRedWolves.com) — The Arkansas State women's basketball team lost its final non-conference game of the season Monday night, falling to Texas A&M 80-62 at Reed Arena.
The Red Wolves (6-6) never led in the game but trailed by just six points at 64-58 with 5:08 to go in the game after Jalen O'Bannon hit a floater in the lane with 5:06 to play. The basket came after an Aggies turnover, one of 12 miscues for Texas A&M on the night. Arkansas State failed to pull any closer, however, after it failed to collect a rebounds on back-to-back free throw attempts from the Aggies. Texas A&M used the momentum to its advantage and went on a 16-4 run to close out the game.
"We competed and really we gave ourselves and with five minutes to go it was a six point ball game," A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. "We had an opportunity to get a rebound off a missed free throw and we don't and then you look up and it is an 18-point ball game. There are a lot of good things to take from this game, but it was just the few little things like that really hurt us tonight."
Arkansas State started the second half with a flurry when Brittney Gill got a steal and passed ahead to Gamble for an easy basket. Gamble followed with an and-1 play on the next Red Wolves' possession to cut the lead to 46-34 two minutes into the second half.
Hanna Qedan knocked down a jumper at the 15:00 mark to pill A-State within single digits (48-39) for the first time since the midway points of the first half. The Red Wolves got as close as eight points (52-44) with 12:02 to play, but the Aggies turned their defensive pressure and forced the Red Wolves into costly turnovers and pushed the lead to 60-46 with under nine minutes to go in the game.
The Red Wolves did an excellent job of handling Texas A&M pressing defense on the night, but was careless with the basketball in other situations.
Aundrea Gamble scored a team-high 17 points and dished out five assists, while Qedan and O'Bannon each finished with 10 points. Jasmine Hunt led the squad with eight rebounds and also scored six points, while Jane Morrill just missed double-figures scoring with nine points.
The Red Wolves dug themselves into an early deficit thanks to struggles from the field early on. A-State hit just one of its first eight shots to start the game, while the Aggies took advantage of the early misses and went on an 8-0 run to take an 11-2 lead just seven minutes into the game.
The score, however, was indicative of the Red Wolves' effort on the defensive end. Texas A&M committed back to back turnovers to start the game and A-State held an advantage on the boards at the second media timeout, but A-State's poor shooting led to easy baskets in transition as the lead grew to 32-13 with 6:10 to go in the first half.
Jasmine Hunt sparked a small run for Arkansas State after that however, as the junior from Houston, Texas knocked down three straight shots and Hanna Qedan followed with a 3-pointer to cut the Aggies lead to 36-22 with 3:55 to play in the opening half. A-State got within 13 (38-25) after Gamble converted an and-1 attempt with 2:41 left to play in the frame, but could not close the gap before the half as the Aggies took 44-30 lead into the break.
The loss to the Aggies snapped A-State's six game winning streak over SEC teams, which dated back to the 1996-97 season. Since that time the Red Wolves had collected victories over Alabama, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Arkansas. This was the first time that the Red Wolves had faced an SEC team since the 2007-08 season.
A-State will open Sun Belt Conference play Jan. 2 against newcomer UT Arlington and live audio of the game can be heard at AStateRedWolves.com. For in-game updates follow @AStateGameDay on Twitter and stay up to date with A-State women's basketball team by following them on Twitter (@AStateWB), Instagram (AStateWBB) and Facebook (Facebook.com/RedWolvesWBB).