Boone, NC (A-State) – The Arkansas State women’s basketball matched the school record for victories in a single season at with a 83-74 victory over Appalachian State Saturday afternoon at the Holmes Convocation Center.
With the victory the Red Wolves finished the regular season with a 25-4 overall record and a 19-1 mark in Sun Belt Conference play. The 25 victories are the most since the 1992-93 when Arkansas State finished 25-8. The 19 league victories are also the most in league history.
“There were a lot things that were frustrating about this game, but when you look back at things we just won our 25th game and finished 19-1 in conference and what run this group has had,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “This was a hard game today, but when you look at the final score and put another check in the win column it makes it all worth it.”
Khadija Brown-Haywood led the way for A-State with a career-high 31 points. She also added 12 rebounds for her 12th double-double of the season. Aundrea Gamble added 20 points and nine rebounds, while Amanda Lawson finished with 11 points.
Appalachian State led the Red Wolves by four with 4:44 to go in the third quarter, but Jessica Flanery sparked a 17-2 with a 3-pointer in the near corner. Brown-Haywood followed with a trey from the same spot to put Arkansas State ahead 52-50 and free throws by Lauren Bradshaw and Brittney Gill on consecutive offensive possessions pushed the lead to five.
A-State continued its run with a pair of free throws by Dominique Oliver and capped the run with back-to-back 3-pointers by Gamble and Brown-Haywood to go up 63-52 with 1:51 left in the period. It was the first double-digit lead for either team in the game.
The Red Wolves outscored the Mountaineers 31-21 in the third quarter, which marked the third time this season that A-State has scored 31 points in a quarter.
A-State ended the third quarter and started the fourth by draining five consecutive shots from the field, to build a 13-point edge. The Mountaineers got the deficit down to seven points twice in the final period, but A-State had an answer for each run and closed out the game by going 5-of-6 from the free throw line the final minute to close the game.
“We’ve been a team of runs all year, but I didn’t know if it was coming today,” Boyer said. “In the bigger picture we were not very good early on, but when we got in that third quarter we defended pretty well, which led to opportunities to get some points out in transition for us.”
A-State and the Mountaineers produced almost identical shooting numbers in the first half, with the Red Wolves taking a 36-35 advantage into the locker room. Brown-Haywood scored 15 points, 13 of which came in the first quarter, and grabbed nine rebounds to pace her team. Gamble also added 13 points and eight rebounds as Arkansas State shot 14-of-35 (40 percent) from the field.
A 2-for-9 start from the field but A-State behind early in the first quarter, but the Red Wolves responded with a 10-0 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Brown-Haywood to put her squad up 15-10.
Appalachian State continued to battle however, and scored five quick points to start the second the quarter to take a 26-23 lead. A-State appeared out of sync and committed nine turnovers in period as the Mountaineers pushed their advantage to 30-23 with 6:37 to go.
Gamble took over the game and helped the Red Wolves get within 32-30 when she converted on an and-1 opportunity and Amanda Lawson tied the game at 34-34 with less than three minutes left. Following an Appalachian State free throw, Gamble scored a runner in the lane with 50 seconds to go to set the score at 36-35 at halftime.
Arkansas State will open play in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, March 9 at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, La. The Red Wolves will have the No. 1 seed in the tournament and will begin play at 11:30 a.m. against the No. 8 seed on Wednesday.