LAS VEGAS, Nev. (12/20/16) – Jada Ford scored a career-high 30 points and the Red Wolves nearly erased a 12-point fourth quarter deficit, but came up short in a 83-78 loss to Northern Kentucky after the second day of competition at the Puerto Rico Classic (in Las Vegas) at South Point Arena.
A-State (2-9) trailed 66-54 with 9:32 to go in the game, but worked the deficit down 81-78 with 16 seconds after a 3-pointer by Ford. A-State got the ball back after a tie up on the inbound pass resulted in a jump ball with the arrow belonging to the Red Wolves, but Ford’s quick layup rimmed out and the Norse (3-8) grabbed the rebound and were quickly fouled with three seconds to go.
“This was just not a very good effort by us on the defensive end of the floor,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “We did a pretty good job of defending in the first quarter, but it just go progressively worse after that and it’s fine to score 78 points but you just aren’t going to win many ball games with an effort like that on the defensive end of the floor.”
Ford scored 26 of her 30 points in the second half and became the first A-State player to score 30 or more points in a game since Khadija Brown-Haywood to score 31 against Appalachian State on March 5, 2016. The total is also tied for the third most by a Sun Belt Conference player this season.
Lauren Bradshaw collected her first double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Tahlon Hopkins finished in double-figures with 11 points.
The Red Wolves held a two point advantage at halftime, but the Norse went on a 16-6 run to go up 63-53 with 57.8 seconds to in the third quarter. NKU took advantage in the post and got 23 points from Kaey Uetrecht, who took advantage of openings in the paint after Bradshaw picked up her fourth foul early in the third period.
The Red Wolves jumped out to a 16-6 lead in the first quarter thanks to a hot hand from beyond the arc. Oliver capped an 8-0 run with a trey from the corner, but Northern Kentucky answered with a hot shooting stroke of its own and took advantage of its dribble-drive into the paint to close with 20-16 after the first period of play.
A-State quickly pushed its lead to 29-20 after a layup by Bradshaw with 7:03 left in the half. Bradshaw scored 10 points in the half and grabbed six rebounds. A 15-6 run by the Norse tied the game at 35-35 with 2:12 to go, but Bradshaw gave the Red Wolves a 39-37 lead at the break with a put back before time expired.
A-State shot 41.2 percent from the field, but the Norse countered with a 54.4 percent average and knocked down 47.4 percent of their 30pointer attempts. A-State finished with eight turnovers, an improvement over its 19 giveaways in the first game of the tournament against Kennesaw State.
The Red Wolves return to action Wednesday night when they will take on Cal in the third game of the Puerto Rico Classic (in Las Vegas). Tipoff is set for 11:15 p.m.