LITTLE ROCK, AR (ASU) – Arkansas State nearly erased an 11-point deficit in the game's final two minutes, but Aundrea Gamble's shot at the buzzer fell short and the Red Wolves fell to UALR 63-61 in Sun Belt Conference women's basketball on Thursday evening.
A-State (17-8, 12-3 SBC) trailed 60-49 with 2:24 to play, but cut the deficit to 63-61 with 16 second to go after a 3-pointer by Khadija Brown-Haywood. The Red Wolves were able to close the gap by putting the Trojans (22-3, 15-1) at the foul line where the team had struggled for most of the game. UALR made just 3-of-8 from the foul over the final two minutes, including a pair of misses by Shanity James with 7.8 seconds to go that would have pushed the Trojan lead to four.
Gamble grabbed the rebound after the miss and dribbled the ball up court and fired a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired, but the shot fell short and A-State suffered it's third loss of the conference season.
“We were disappointed in the outcome but I am proud of my team for their performance in the second half,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “I thought we competed really well and gave ourselves a chance at the end and against a team like this that's all you can really ask for is a chance to win the game when it comes down to the end of the game.”
Arkansas State trailed 27-24 at halftime, but tied the game at 36-36 on a stick back by Brown-Haywood. Taylor Gault helped UALR respond by leading a 6-0 charge to push to the advantage to 42-36 and the lead stretched to 56-45 with 4:42 remaining. The deficit stayed at 11 points with under three minutes to go before A-State made a late run to make the game close in the final seconds.
Jasmine Hunt led three Red Wolves' in double-figures with 14 points. Brown-Haywood narrowly missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Brittney Gill also finished with 10 points.
“I thought we executed the plan perfectly coming down in that last three minutes,” Boyer said. “We defended really well and outside of fouling the wrong person just once, I thought we did exactly what we needed to do but we just came up short in the end.”
UALR frustrated Arkansas State in the first half and forced the Red Wolves into 13 turnovers. Both teams got off to a slow start and had combined for nine turnovers at the first media timeout, but UALR held the upper hand at 14-10 until the Red Wolves responded with a 9-1 run to go up 19-15 with 7:28 to go in the frame.
The run was highlighted but a steal and hoop by Gamble to tie the game at 14-14, and a 3-pointer by Qedan to push the lead to seven points. Qedan lead A-State with seven points in the first half, while Gamble and Hunt finished with four each.
UALR responded with an 11-0 run of its own to take a 26-15 lead, but the Red Wolves scored nine of the half's final 10 points to close within 27-24 at the break. Both teams shot 40 percent from the field in the opening half, while A-State knocked down 5-of-8 free throws. The Trojans struggled to knock down their free throws and were 4-of-12 from the foul line, but held a slight 17-16 margin on the boards.
For the game, A-State shot 47.9 percent (23-of-48) from the field and made 12-of-16 (75 percent) free throws, while UALR shot 48 percent (24-of-50) and was 14-of-28 (50 percent) from the foul line. The Red Wolves also committed 23 turnovers to the Trojans' 14, but A-State won the battle on the boards 31-27.
The squad will return to action Saturday, Feb. 21 at the Convocation Center against ULM. The game is set for a 3 p.m. tip-off and can be heard live on 95.3FM The Ticket/970AM KNEA or online at AStateRedWolves.com.