LAS VEGAS, Nev. (12/19/16) – Tahlon Hopkins hit a runner in the lane with 30 seconds to give Arkansas State a one point lead and Brittany Fowler knocked down two free throws with seven seconds to go to help propel the Red Wolves to a 70-67 victory over Kennesaw State on the first day of play at the Puerto Rico Classic (in Las Vegas) at the South Point Arena.
A-State (2-8) trailed by 10 with 7:55 to go in the game, but slowly began to chip away at the Owls’ lead thanks to a 9-0 that closed the margin to 61-60 with 4:41 remaining. Jada Ford tied the game a 66-66, but the Owls Clara Young made a free throw on the other end of the floor to put her team up a point.
Hopkins answered for A-State with her runner in the lane and then a chaotic situation unfolded on Kennesaw State’s end of the floor when the Owls’ were awarded a timeout on what appeared to be a jump ball situation. Kennesaw State failed to capitalize after Young was whistled for an offensive foul with 8.2 seconds to go. Fowler was immediately fouled on the inbound pass and hit both free throws to put the Red Wolves up three with 7.4 seconds left.
Kennesaw State managed to get off two 3-point attempts before time expired, but neither came close to going in and A-State came away with its second win of the season.
“This was one of those game’s where it just came down to which team was going to be the last one standing,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “We are already down two starters and then we had another sick and then we get into early foul trouble, but that flipped near the end because I think at one point all four players they had on the court had four fouls and we were able to take advantage of that and be more aggressive driving to the basket and honestly that won us the game.”
Ford paced three Red Wolves’ in double-figures with 21 points, while Hopkins and Dominique Oliver scored 13 each. Hopkins was also a perfect 7-of-7 from free throw line as the Red Wolves finished 18-of-22 as a team from the charity stripe.
“Tahlon was huge today for us and made some really big shots and even had a few more that just didn’t fall, but she did a great job of using her athleticism and was really aggressive,” Boyer said. “I’ve never seen a team like this because we shoot free throw extremely well at home, but struggle on the road and to make 18 today was big and was a big reason why we were able to get back into this ball game.”
The Owls looked to have command of the game in the third quarter when they took their largest lead of the afternoon at 52-41, but the Red Wolves answered with a 7-0 run to get within four with just over a minute left in the period.
Arkansas State dug itself out of an early hole after the Owls went on a 9-0 run to take 14-8 lead in the first quarter until Hopkins knocked down four straight free throws and Bradshaw hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to even the score. The Red wolves took lead after Ford drove the base line for a layup to go up 16-14, but it would be short lived.
Kennesaw State responded by turning up the pressure defensively and went into a full court press that resulted in three straight turnovers on as many possessions for the Red Wolves that allowed the Owls to take a 23-22 after the first quarter.
The lead grew to 33-29 with under five minutes left in the half, but Ford knocked down a 3-pointer as time wound down in the half get the Red Wolves within 35-32 at the break. Ford led A-State with 10 points in the half, while Oliver had seven points.
The Red Wolves return to action Tuesday afternoon when they will take on Northern Kentucky in the second game of the Puerto Rico Classic (in Las Vegas). Tipoff is set for 4:15 p.m.