JONESBORO, AR (astateredwolves.com) – Led by three players in double-figures the Arkansas State women’s basketball team remained unbeaten in Sun Belt Conference play with an 83-56 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.
Khadija Brown-Haywood turned in her third straight double-double with 22 points and career-high 18 rebounds, while Amanda Lawson added a career best 22 points and nine rebounds for the Red Wolves. Reigning Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Aundrea Gamble finished with 12 points and dished out five assists as A-State ran its home winning streak to 16 games.
“That’s a pretty good performance by this group,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “Not only to perform like that against a really good team in Louisiana-Lafayette, but the way were able to do it was impressive. I was a little worried about playing them defensively with the way we look to defend, but my team took it as a challenge and did a really great job tonight on both ends of the floor.”
The Red Wolves (10-3, 4-0) opened with a surge and used a 7-0 run to build a 9-2 lead early in the game. The squad knocked down 6-of-7 shots to start the game and held a 13-7 lead at the first media timeout.
Brittany Fowler helped extend the lead to 21-9 with a pair of 3-pointers near the end of the period and Brown-Haywood rattled in a mid-range jump shot as time expired to put her team ahead 27-15. The Red Wolves shot 80 percent from the field in the first quarter, and Brown-Haywood finished with eight points and six rebounds in the frame.
The Ragin’ Cajuns (10-3, 3-1) clawed their way back into the game in the second quarter with a high pressure defense and forced three consecutive turnovers and cut the lead down to 27-20 after a steal that led to a Kia Wilridge layup.
The teams continued to trade baskets for much of the period, but Lawson scored on back-to-back layups to put the Red Wolves up 39-28 with 1:48 to go and the half and the lead did not dip into single digits for the remainder of the game.
Brown-Haywood and Lawson played a pivotal role in Arkansas State’s success in the first half with Lawson leading all scorers with 14 points and Brown-Haywood adding 10 points and nine rebounds. Both players benefited from the up-tempo pace that sparked by Gamble from the point guard position.
“I give credit to one of my assistants Deidra Johnson because the pace of our offense had slowed down somewhat and she challenged Gamble in practice this week and right from the start she was really pushing the ball down the court,” Boyer said. “I thought that really got our team going and helped set the tone for things for the rest of the game.”
A-State used an 8-0 run in the third quarter to push its lead to 19 points after Lawson converted on an and-1 situation with 6:25 remaining in the quarter. The lead grew to 27 points in the fourth quarter after a pair of 3-pointers by Brown-Haywood put her over the 20-point plateau for the third time this season.
The Red Wolves shot a season-high 55.8 percent (29-of-52) from the field and held a 39-31 edge on the boards. The A-State bench also provided a spark with 17 points, including nine from Fowler who hit three, 3-pointers. Arkansas State also finished 18-of-19 from the free throw line and never trailed during the contest.
A-State returns to the hardwood Saturday, Jan. 16 against Appalachian State at 3 p.m. at the Convocation Center.