A-State marches Into semifinals with victory over Mountaineers
New Orleans, LA (ASU) – Led by three players in double-figures, the Arkansas State women's basketball team defeated Appalachian State 67-52 in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Wednesday afternoon at Lakefront Arena.
Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Aundrea Gamble lead the way with 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting and dished out six assists, while Third Team All-Sun Belt Conference selection Khadija Brown-Haywood scored 18 points and pulled down a career-high 13 rebound for her first career double-double. Jasmine Hunt narrowly missed out on her fourth career double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds.
“I was very proud of my team's effort and very happy to get a win in this first game of the tournament,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “I was really pleased in the first half with our defense and we took away their transition offense and forced them to score in the halfcourt. I liked my team's mentality all the way through the game and even when Appalachian State when on that run I liked their mindset.”
Arkansas State (22-9) led 34-23 after the first 20 minutes of play, but the Mountaineers opened the second half on an 8-2 run to cut the Red Wolves' lead to 36-31 before the first media timeout. Appalachian State kept A-State within striking distance until Maryah Sydnor picked up her fourth foul of the game with 13:40 remaining and was forced to go to the bench.
The Red Wolves took advantage of the missing all-conference player and went on an 11-2 run to push the lead to 48-37 with 12:14 to go. Brown-Haywood scored six points the run and helped spark momentum back to A-State's side.
Defensively, A-State played and held Appalachian State to just one field goal over an eight-plus minute span during the second half. The Mountaineers were held to just 32.3 percent (20-of-62 shooting) on the afternoon and ere forced in 19 turnovers which the Red Wolves converted into 23 points.
Arkansas State used a 12-0 run midway through the first half to build a 17-7 lead with 13:28 to go in the half. The run began by the Red Wolves knocking down five straight shots to start the run, including a 3-pointer by Qedan that forced Appalachian State to take a timeout at the 15:28 mark of the half.
Gamble led all scorers with 10 points in the opening 20 minutes and she also dished out five assists. Hunt also proved to a force in the paint, scoring seven points and grabbing seven rebounds. Hunt's presence inside also forced the Mountaineers into difficult shots, which showed on the stat sheet as Appalachian State shot just 27 percent from the field in the opening frame.
Arkansas State shot 37.1 percent (23-of-62) from the field on the afternoon, and knocked down 76.9 percent (20-of-26) of its free throws. Appalachian State held a slight 43-41 edge on the boards, but A-State limited itself to just nine turnovers on the afternoon, while blocking four shots and getting 10 steals.
Arkansas State will return to the court Friday, March 13 at 2 p.m. against the winner of the No. 3 Troy and No. 6 UL-Lafayette matchup. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.com and can be heard locally on 95.3FM The Ticket and online at AStateRedWolves.com