CHATTANOOGA, TN (A-STATE) – The Arkansas State Red Wolves women’s basketball team led by as many at 17 points in the second half, but Chattanooga erased the deficit and handed the Red Wolves their first loss of the season in a 55-54 setback Wednesday at McKenzie Arena.
A-State trailed 55-54 with 6.6 seconds to go after a layup by Kelaina Gilbert gave the Mocs the lead. Red Wolves (3-1) head coach Brian Boyer took a timeout and advanced the ball past midcourt under the new women’s basketball rules and put the ball in the hands of Aundrea Gamble who beat her defender and had an open look for a layup, but the ball bounced off the backboard and Chattanooga controlled the rebound to seal the victory.
Gamble led Arkansas State in scoring with 17 points, while also adding eight rebounds, four assists and five steals.
“Let’s not forget this team was in the national top-25 last week and you give yourself a chance to win at the end of the game and that’s really all you can ask for,” Boyer said. “Whether that shot goes in or not, does not change the performance, changes the outcome, but does not change the performance. I’m proud of this team because they just went toe-to-toe with a team that just two nights ago took a top-5 Tennessee to the brink. Just a hard, gritty performance by my team tonight and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
A-State led by as many as 17 in the second half, but saw its advantage slowly dwindle away thanks to a 10-plus minute scoring drought that allowed the Mocs (3-2) to take a 47-44 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Gamble ended the drought with a 3-pointer to get A-State within 47-46 and then she hit a layup and was fouled to put A-State up 49-47 with under four minutes to go. The Mocs’ Alicia Payne hit a layup to tie the game, but Khadija Brown-Haywood drained a 3-pointer with 2:27 to give her squad 52-49 cushion.
Brown-Haywood narrowly missed out on her first double-double of the season with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Back-to-back layups by Gilbert put the Mocs up 53-52, but Gamble was fouled with 22 seconds to go and hit both free throws to give A-State the lead once again. Gilbert then hit a layup for Chattanooga layup with seven seconds to go proved to be the winning field goal.
A-State opened the second half on a 15-0 run thanks to five straight 3-pointers by Brown-Haywood, Jessica Flanery and Gamble. Flanery’s second 3-pointer put Arkansas State up 41-25 and after a basket by Gilbert, Gamble converted a 3-point play on the other end to put the Red Wolves up by 44-17, it largest lead of the night.
“That was as an impressive of a stretch of shooting the basketball as we have had,” Boyer said. “It gave us a chance, sadly it wasn’t enough but we just have to move on to the next one and try to get a victory.”
A-State led at the end of the first two quarters thanks to the hot hand of Fowler. The junior from Monette, Ark., knocked down a 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter to give A-State a 14-12 lead and found her stroke again in the second quarter to help the Red Wolves erase a seven point deficit.
The Mocs took a 23-16 lead at the 5:29 mark of the second quarter when Alicia Payne hit her team’s third straight 3-pointer and was fouled on the play to give either team it’s largest lead of the half.
Fowler helped end the run with a 3-pointer and Gamble drove to the basket on a dribble-drive to get A-State within striking distance again. Fowler put A-State back out in front with her third, ‘3’ of the half to give the Red Wolves a 26-23 lead, but Chattanooga got a putback off a missed shot with 29 seconds to go to cut the deficit to one going into halftime.
Fowler was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc in the opening frame and lead A-State with nine points at the half.
A-State shot 36.5 percent (19-of-52) from the field compared to the Mocs’ 51.1 percent (23-of-45). The Red Wolves also went 9-of-24 (37.5 percent) from beyond the arc and were a perfect 7-for-7 from the foul line.
A-State returns to the court Saturday night when it will take on Florida Gulf Coast at 6 p.m. (CT). The game will be streamed live on ESPN3.com.
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.