JONESBORO, Ark. (AStateRedWolves.com) – Junior forward Jasmine Hunt scored a career-high 17 points and redshirt junior Hanna Qedan scored a game-high 18 to lead the Red Wolves to a 73-60 victory over South Alabama in a Sun Belt Conference women's basketball game Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.
The Red Wolves improved to 10-6 overall and ran their Sun Belt record to 4-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season. A-State, which has won six of its last seven games, also improved to 5-1 at the Convo in the midst of a three-game home stand. South Alabama fell to 4-10 overall and 2-2 in league play in the setback.
Arkansas State trailed 34-29 at halftime, but outscored the Jaguars 24-6 to start the second half to go up 59-48 with 11:47 to go in the game. In the midst of the time frame, A-State had a 15-0 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers from Hanna Qedan and Jalen O'Bannon and eight straight points from Hunt.
"The message at halftime was that we have to score inside," A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. "Getting Jane (Morrill) back on the court was big and then getting Jalen going and Jasmine continued doing what had been in the first half and that was just the biggest difference in the second half."
South Alabama struggled to make shots from the field in the second half, after hitting 47.8 percent shots in the opening 20 minutes. The Jaguars went without a field for 8:31 in the second half as A-State continued to build its lead. Hunt scored nine of her 17 points in the second half, while Qedan added 11 of her 18 in the frame. The Jaguars shot just 29.2 percent from the field in the second half, and made just two 3-pointers after hitting four in the first half.
Aundrea Gamble also played a large factor in the Red Wolves' success in the second half, by scoring 10 of her 15 points in the frame. She helped spark the big run in the second half she scored off a Jaguar turnover by knocking down a jumper in the lane that put A-State up by four points.
South Alabama looked poised to take control of the game when it opened the second half by draining a 3-pointer to go up eight points at 37-29 before A-State went its run to take the lead. This marked the fourth straight game in which the Red Wolves have trailed by eight points in the second half and have come back to win the game.
"Defensively I thought we kind of fed off the offense a little bit," Boyer said. "I thought Brittney Gill and Jamie Ruffins gave us a good effort and I thought we were able to do some things with some pressure that really gave them problems."
The Red Wolves struggled offensively in the first half, shooting just 35 percent (12-of-34) from the field, including missing its first six shots to start the game and fell behind 9-2 early on. A-State went on a 9-2 to close the gap to 12-11 when Qedan knocked down a 3-pointer with 11:04 left in the first half. Qedan finished with 12 first half points, including two 3-pointers.
Hunt gave A-State a big spark off the bench in the opening 20 minutes, scoring eight points, including back-to-back buckets that put Arkansas State in front for the first time in the game at 15-13 at the 8:42 mark of the first half.
However, the lead would not last and the Jaguars jumped back in front and led 32-21 with 2:44 to go in the period. A-State closed on a 8-2 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer from Qedan that set the halftime margin at 34-29 in favor of South Alabama,
The Red Wolves had strong defensive presence in the first half, forcing the Jaguars into 10 turnovers. A-State also had four steals and a one block in the frame, but South Alabama just 47.8 percent from the field (11-of-23), including making 4-of-9 shots from beyond the arc.
Jalen O'Bannon finished the game with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Morrill and Brittney Gill each had six points.
A-State returns to the Convocation Center Jan. 14 for a matchup with Georgia State 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).