MURFREESBORO, TN (astateredwolves.com) – The Arkansas State women's basketball team had it's historic season come to an end Sunday afternoon with a 70-60 loss to Middle Tennessee at the Murphy Center in the second round of the Women's Invitation Tournament (WNIT).
A-State ends the season with an overall record of 24-11, one shy of tying the school's time all-time mark for most wins in a season, while Middle Tennessee improved to 23-9 and will advance to play the winner of the Ole Miss-Georgia Tech matchup.
The game was tied at 25-25 at halftime, but the Blue Raiders went on an 11-0 just after the start of the second half to quickly build a 41-29 advantage with 13:41 to go in the game. The Red Wolves' offense, which started the game by hitting nearly 50 percent of its shot attempts, fell off in the second half and had a scoring drought of four-plus minutes during the Middle Tennessee run.
“This is obviously a disappointing finish to the year and you never want it to be over, but I'm certainly proud of what were able to accomplish this year and the fight and drive this team had in each and every game,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “I thought in the first half we did just about everything we needed to do and just had one big issues, which was rebounding, but we were able to weather that but in the second half I think it took its toll and everything unraveled after that.”
All-America candidate Aundrea Gamble scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Jessica Flanery finished with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from behind the 3-point line.
The Blue Raiders led by 19 with 3:29, but A-State made a late run spurred by a pair of 3-pointers by Flanery. A-State cut the lead to 70-60, and Gamble got a steal on the defensive end to give the Red Wolves a chance with under 50 seconds to go. However, a 3-point attempt missed and A-State failed to collect the rebound and the Blue Raiders were able to run out the clock and prevent Arkansas State from picking up its first win in Murfreesboro.
Rebounding plagued A-State throughout the game and Middle Tennessee finished with a 51-28 edge on the glass. The Blue Raiders held a 40-16 edge in points in the paint and held the Red Wolves to just four second chance point opportunities in the game.
Both teams battled in the first half and went into the locker tied at 25-25 after Brown-Haywood beat the buzzer on a jump shot off a busted player as time expired to give the Red Wolves a jolt of momentum headed into the break.
Neither team led by more than four points in the half, but A-State had an edge with a solid shooting half. The Red Wolves knocked down 41 percent (11-of-27) of their shots, but finished the half just 1-of-7 and had a scoring drought of four-plus minutes until Brown-Haywood hit the shot to beat the buzzer.
Middle Tennessee struggled from the field, shooting just 29 percent (10-of-34), but also stained four 3-pointers to keep itself in the game. The Blue Raiders committed nine turnovers, but held a 28-15 edge on the boards, including a 13-2 advantage on the offensive glass.