EL PASO, Texas (3/21/16) – The Arkansas State women’s basketball team saw its season come to an end Monday night with a 74-68 loss to UTEP in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) at the Don Haskins Center.
Aundrea Gamble scored a game-high 21 points, while Khadija Brown-Haywood picked up her 16th career double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Amanda Lawson also finished in double figures with 11 points. Fellow seniors Jessica Flanery and Brittney Gill finished their careers with five and four points each.
The loss ends the best season in Arkansas State women’s basketball history at 27-6, while UTEP improved to 28-4 and will host TCU in the third round on Thursday.
“This has been an amazing group,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “This group has the most wins in any three-year stretch and it is a pretty amazing group both on and off the court with three SBC Team Academic awards during that time as well. You just can’t say enough about these seniors and this entire group over the last few years.”
A-State took its first lead of the night at 67-66 after Gamble knocked down two free throws with 2:52 to go in the game. UTEP answers with a pair of free throws of its own by Sparkle Taylor to go up by a point, by Amanda Lawson converted on 1-of-2 free throws with 1:09 left to tie the game at 68-68.
Agata Dobrowolska put the Miners up with a jumper in the paint with 45 seconds to go, and Khadija Brown-Haywood had a 3-pointer go halfway down and popout and UTEP controlled the rebound and called timeout.
Jenzel Nash scored on a backdoor cut on an out-of-bounds play, and Gamble turned the ball over after she was hit on the arm but no foul was called give the Miners possession with 14 seconds left.
Arkansas State spent most of the night trying to play catchup after UTEP built a 14-point lead in the second quarter. A-State cut the deficit to six at halftime and got within one point twice in the third quarter but could get over the hump.
Brittany Fowler drained two free throws with 1:23 to go in the period to get A-State within 50-49 and Gamble hit a pair of her own to with 31 seconds remaining to get the score within 52-51.
In the fourth quarter, the Red Wolves got within a point twice before finally taking the lead on Gamble’s free throws, but the Miners outscored A-State 8-1 over the final 2:40 to end the team’s season for the second time in the last three seasons.
“We gave it everything we had,” Boyer said. “The team battled as hard as we could tonight and I couldn’t be more proud. We got a little flustered with the crowd in the first quarter, but as to be expected this group handled it and gave us every chance to win down the stretch. We just needed some things to happen down the stretch and they just didn’t for us.”
UTEP began to separate itself from the Red Wolves with a 9-0 run across the first and second quarters that gave the Miners a 20-14 lead. A turnover by the Red Wolves and an easy layup on the other end pushed the edge to 25-16 and forced Coach Boyer to take a timeout.
The Miners led by 14 with 6:31 to go until the break, but A-State slowly began to work its way back into the game. Brown-Haywood cut the lead to 32-24 with less than five minutes to go, while Dominique Oliver, Amanda Lawson and Jessica Flanery combined to score the final six points of the half to get A-State within 36-30 at the break.
Gamble and Brown-Haywood combined to score 24 of the Red Wolves’ 30 points. Gamble reached double-figures early in the second quarter and had nine of A-State’s first 11 points. Brown-Haywood got going in the second quarter, but UTEP had already gone its run to build a double-digit advantage.
A-State shot 47.2 percent from the field on the night and hit 13-of-16 (81.3 percent) of its free throws. UTEP shot 44.4 percent from the field and also went 13-of-16 from the foul line, but held a 39-28 edge on the glass. The Miners also outscored Arkansas State 28-8 in bench points.