MARTIN, TN (A-STATE) – Arkansas State's defense bent, but it did not break as the women's basketball team defeated UT Martin 76-74 Wednesday at the Elam Center.
Ahead by two points, with 37 seconds to play, A-State was called for a charge when Aundrea Gamble drove into lane and ran into a defender, giving the ball to the Skyhawks with seven seconds to go.
Coming out of the timeout, Brittney Gill anticipated a crossover move by DaiJa Ruffin and came away with the steal and a timeout with 0.9 seconds left. The Red Wolves were then able to cleanly inbound the ball and avoid the foul to come away with its first victory in the city of Martin in school history.
"They are a really good team and you knew to come in here and win it would have to be a game like this," A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. "I'm just really proud of my team and how hard they competed."
The game was close throughout the night, with neither side able to shake the other. A-State went up by seven with 3:26 to go when Lauren Bradshaw followed a Jessica Flanery miss, but UT Martin answered on the opposite end with a 3-pointer by Jessy Ward to get the deficit to 69-65.
The Red Wolves went back up by seven when Flanery connected on a '3 on the next trip down the floor for A-State, but UT Martin continued to stay close and refused to let A-State pull away.
UT Martin got within 76-72 after Ruffin hit a layup with 51 seconds to go and an A-State turnover put the ball back in the Skyhawks' hands. Ruffin went to the line and hit two free throws to get within two to setup the charge by Gamble and game winning steal by Gill.
Gill finished the contest with 10 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists. Eight of her points and five of her rebounds came in the second half as she helped the Red Wolves keep pace with the Skyhawks' hot shooting.
Aundrea Gamble led all scores with 22 points on the night. She helped keep the Red Wolves afloat when the Skyhawks jumped out to a 16-4 advantage in the first quarter thanks to 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, A-State struggled with UT Martin's press and started the game just 2-of-7 from the field.
Gamble was able to get A-State back in the game with an 8-0 run than included a 3-pointer, dribble-drive, layup and a free throw to get the Red Wolves with 17-14 at the end of the first quarter. UTM pushed the lead to lead to 22-14 with a quick spurt to start the second quarter, but the Red Wolves continued to claw away the Skyhawk lead.
UT Martin held Gamble to just four points in the quarter, but A-State's inside game picked up the slack. Lauren Bradshaw established an inside presence and got to the basket and the free throw line, while Khadija Brown-Haywood battled on the boards and had six rebounds at the half.
Dominique Oliver got hot near the end of the half and knocked down a mid-range jumper with 1:43 to go to give A-State it's first lead since early in the first quarter. Amanda Lawson made it a 34-30 advantage with under a minute left, but the Skyhawks got a putback just before the halftime horn sounded to make a 34-32 Red Wolves' lead at the break.
Brown-Haywood missed out on her second career double-double with 14 points, eight of which came in the second half, and eight rebounds.
The Red Wolves return home to face Wichita State in the home opener at the Convocation Center Saturday, Nov. 21. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.
Season tickets for A-State's 2015-16 campaign are on sale at the A-State Ticket Office, located at the Convocation Center's lower red entrance. The ticket office can be contacted at 870-972-2781, and ticket information is also available by clicking on the Ticket Central Page on AStateRedWolves.com or by logging onto the site directly at AStateRedWolves.com/tickets.