JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – The Arkansas State women's basketball team grabbed a 14-point halftime advantage over UT Arlington, and then held off a second-half rally by the Mavericks to claim a 67-62 Sun Belt Conference victory Thursday night at the Convocation Center.
A-State improved to 19-8 overall, leaving it only one victory shy of reaching 20 wins for the second consecutive year. The Red Wolves, winners in seven of their last eight games, also ran their Sun Belt record to 14-3. Texas-Arlington saw its record go to 15-11 overall and 9-8 in league play.
Junior forward Khadija Brown-Haywood led four A-State players scoring in double figures, recording 17 points as well as a team-high six rebounds. Junior guard Aundrea Gamble added 14 points and team-high four steals, while senior forward Jasmine Hunt and senior guard Hannah Qedan added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Red Wolves.
A-State was able to take a double-figure advantage almost midway through the first half and went on to post a 39-25 halftime lead, taking advantage of 17 UTA turnovers it turned into 19 points. However, the Mavericks outscored the Red Wolves 19-6 over the second half's first nine minutes to pull within 45-44.
Almost five minutes later UTA took its first lead since the opening possession, when LaShanda Green hit a three that made the score 55-54 with 6:34 left in the game. A-State responded by going on a 9-1 run to go back up by seven points with 2:17 remaining. The Mavericks were able to pull back within three points on two different occasions down the stretch, but couldn't get any closer.
“We played really well defensively the first half and did a good job flying around,” said A-State head coach Brian Boyer. “We were able to keep them uncomfortable the first half, and we forced 17 turnovers that allowed us to get out in offense. We weren't able to do that the second half. Our defense was alright, but we didn't force turnovers.
“They are a good team, and they are hard to defend because of their size. That can be a challenge if you're not forcing turnovers, but fortunately we did enough right things to get the win.”
UTA actually finished the game with a higher shooting percentage, .489 to .451, and had one more rebound, but committed 23 turnovers to the Red Wolves 14. A-State also made 17-of-22 free throws, while the Mavericks were 10-of-15 at the line.
Arkansas State returns to action Saturday, Feb. 28, when it will face Texas State in a 2 p.m. road game.