Jonesboro, AR (A-State) – The Arkansas State women’s basketball team erased a 10-point deficit, but could not hold onto the lead late in the game as the Red Wolves fell to Louisiana 77-75 Sunday afternoon at First National Bank Arena.
A-State (6-7, 1-1 SBC) trailed for most of the afternoon, but rallied to take its first lead with 5:45 left after a jumper by Payton Tennison. The Red Wolves failed to extend the lead, however, and allowed the Ragin’ Cajuns (6-8, 1-1) to go on a 7-0 run to help close out the game. Tennison knocked down a 3-pointer with two seconds left to get within two, but time expired before A-State could foul on the inbounds play.
Tennison finished with 14 points, two rebounds and two assists, while Jada Ford led A-State in scoring with 16 points, including four, 3-pointers. Akasha Westbrook also finished in double-figures with 12 points and added eight rebounds, while Lauren Bradshaw added 12 points and six boards.
Nekia Jones led Louisiana with 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including five, 3-pointers in the first half. Simone Fields added 14 points, while Troi Swain scored 12 points and Malachi Williams rounded the afternoon for the Ragin’ Cajuns with 10 points.
Louisiana knocked down 23-of-49 shots (47 percent), while A-State was 25-of-61 (41 percent) from the field. The difference came from beyond the arc where the Ragin’ Cajuns made 8 of their 16 attempts, while the Red Wolves were 6-for-20. Louisiana also made 82 percent (23-of-28) of their free throw attempts, while the Red Wolves were 19-of-27 (70 percent) on their attempts.
How It Happened (First Half):
Arkansas State fell behind after a hot start by Nekia Jones for the Ragin’ Cajuns who hit two, 3-pointer on her team’s first three possessions. The Red Wolves responded with a 6-0 run to close the gap to 19-17 after the first media timeout, but Jones answered again for Louisiana with two more 3-pointers to give her team a 22-17 lead after the first period.
Jones finished with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, including a perfect 5-of-5 from beyond the arc in the first half for the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Akasha Westbrook got A-State within 22-21 to start the second quarter after a putback and tough shot in the lane on back-to-back possessions, but UL used an 8-0 run to go up 32-24 and held its largest lead of the half at 45-32 with 41 seconds to go in the half. A 3-pointer by Payton Tennison cut the deficit to 10 at the halftime break.
A-State shot 43 percent from the field in the opening half, but Louisiana countered with a 54 percent clip, including an 8-of-10 mark from beyond the arc
How It Happend (Second Half):
Arkansas State slowly chipped away at the Louisiana advantage in the second half, which included a 10-0 run to get within 47-45 early in the third quarter.
Ford knocked down a 3-pointer, one of four on the afternoon for the sophomore, at the start of the fourth quarter close the margin to 59-58. Tennison tied the game at 64-64 with 6:20 to go when she blew by her defender for an easy layup and then followed up with a jumper from just outside the paint on the next possession to give the Red Wolves their first lead of the afternoon with 5:45 remaining. The jumper capped a 6-0 run by A-State.
A-State struggled down the stretch and allowed the Ragin’ Cajuns to go on a 7-0 run to go up 75-70 with 26.6 seconds to go. The Red Wolves went without scoring for over three minutes before Lycia Peevy got a putback with 13 seconds left to get within three.
Nekia Jones made two free throws to push the lead to five, but Tennison hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left to get within 77-75, but the Red Wolves failed to get a steal on the inbounds play and time expired as the Ragin’ Cajuns earned the win.
· Jada Ford led A-State in scoring for the sixth time this season and the 14th time in her career.
· Ford also made three or more 3-pointers in a game for the fourth time this season.
· Lauren Bradshaw recorded a season-high four blocks and was one away from tying her career high.
· Payton Tennison had a season-high 14 points and fell just two short of tying a career-high.
· A-State had four players score in double-figures for just the second time this season.
· Akasha Westbrook scored in double figures for the sixth straight game.
Quoting Coach Brian Boyer:
“We did a lot of really good things to win this game when you look at the statistics, but the area that was not good was that we gave up 45 points to them in the first half when they have been averaging about 58 points per game. Defensively we were not very good during that stretch and they were hot. We eventually got them out of that and in the second half we were much better, but we were constantly trying to battle back and it felt like we never could get over the top.”
“I had no problems with the shots we took down the stretch. We had some good looks and got it inside a few times. We had one crucial opportunity in a transition play that we fumbled a little bit that could have gotten the lead to four and I think that would have been huge for us.”
The Red Wolves will take to the road for the first time in Sun Belt Conference play when they travel to Georgia Southern. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. against the Eagles on Thursday, Jan. 4.