TULSA, Okla. (11/9/19) – Trailing by double-digits for much of the second half at Tulsa, the Arkansas State women’s basketball team held tough in battling back from an 18-point deficit, but that comeback bid fell just short as Tulsa escaped with a 79-77 victory on Saturday at the Donald W. Reynolds Center.
The Red Wolves (1-1) outscored the Golden Hurricane (1-1) 31-20 during that fourth-quarter comeback that came down to the final seconds, with Payton Tennison hitting a clutch three with seven seconds left before hitting a free throw that pulled A-State to within one of Tulsa. As a team, the Scarlet and Black outrebounded TU 56-40 – 20 on the offensive glass. A-State made those second chances count, earning 23 second-chance points.
“We made a run at it,” head coach Matt Daniel said. “I thought there were a couple of loose-ball plays and offensive rebounds that were big (late in the game). Our energy picked up after we got kind of lax in the third. Coach (Caronica) Williams did a great job of getting them fired up and we made some adjustments. They hit some shots but we’d get loose balls I never felt like we were out of the game, though.”
Jireh Washington matched her career high with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting while Peyton Martin recorded a double-double with 18 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Morgan Wallace added 12 points and nine rebounds to round out A-State’s double-figure scorers. As a team, the Red Wolves shot 40 percent from the floor (28-of-70) while Tulsa shot 42 percent (29-of-69).
Tulsa’s Kendrian Elliott led all players with 38 points on 16-of-19 from the floor and 12 rebounds. Morgan Brady added 16 points on 3-of-7 from deep as the other Golden Hurricane player in double figures.
Neither team seized early momentum after Tulsa scored the opening basket, with both squads going through lengthy scoreless droughts during an 8-all deadlock. That changed when Starr Taylor drilled a trey at the top of the arc on an inbounds play with 3:26 left to give the Red Wolves an 11-8 lead.
The Golden Hurricane responded right back with a three of its own from Morgan Brady. Kendrian Elliott then laid it in on Tulsa’s next possession to give TU a 13-11 lead. Tulsa ended the opening quarter on a 9-0 run after Brady netted another deep ball with 41 seconds left.
Tulsa continued its momentum into the second quarter, scoring the first four points before Trinitee Jackson scored the next two buckets to make it 23-15. The Golden Hurricane stretched that lead out to 12 at 27-15 before the Red Wolves began to trim the deficit to three.
Washington began a 6-0 A-State run with an inside bucket followed by the and-one, with Tennison draining her first trey of the day to make it 28-25 Tulsa with 3:29 left in the half. A pair of Martin scores closed out the Red Wolves’ scoring for the half with Tulsa clinging to a 36-29 halftime lead.
A-State shot 35.3 percent from the floor as a team in the first half, but out-rebounded the Golden Hurricane 26-21 to go along with three blocked shots.
Tulsa opened the third quarter with Elliott scoring the first four points of the frame before Washington broke the run with a jumper in the paint. Elliott then responded again with a layup followed by the and-one. A three by Bittle and another score by Elliott stretched the Golden Hurricane’s lead out to 16 at 48-32.
TU’s largest lead of the game came when KK Rodriguez drilled a three with 6:10 left in the third. From there A-State kept fighting, trimming the deficit down to as low as 11 before Tulsa held a 59-46 lead into the final quarter.
A-State came out in the fourth quarter with an early score by Martin before Elliott added another bucket for Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane clung to its double-digit lead until the Red Wolves began to turn up the heat defensively with a full-court press and trimmed Tulsa’s lead down to three on clutch buckets by multiple A-State players.
Washington converted a pair of free throws with under five minutes remaining to cut Tulsa’s lead to 10 at 70-60 before she reached the 20-point mark with a layup with 4:03 left to make it 70-62.
About a minute later after A-State recovered a loose ball and called a timeout to keep possession, Jada Ford hit a key three-pointer to cut Tulsa’s lead to five for the first time since the first half.
Morgan Wallace then converted one of two free throws to make it a four-point game with just over two minutes remaining before Ford then drained another from downtown to cut Tulsa’s lead to 1 at 72-71 with 1:16 left.
Tulsa’s Alexis Gaulden converted a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left to extend its slim lead to six, but Washington struck again with another basket to cut it back down to four with 13 ticks left.
After Wallace hauled in a rebound off a missed free throw, Tennison then came up big late, draining a three with six seconds left then converting 1 of 2 free throws to make it a one-point contest.
Elliott then made one of two on her trip to the charity stripe to close out the day’s scoring and help the Golden Hurricane escape with the win.
The Red Wolves return to Jonesboro for one last home tilt for the month of November, hosting Southeast Missouri State at 7 p.m. CT Wednesday, Nov. 13, at First National Bank Arena. The game will be aired live on ESPN+ with radio coverage on 95.3 The Ticket.
For the latest on the A-State women’s basketball program, follow @AStateWB on Twitter and @astatewbb on Instagram, while also liking the team’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/RedWolvesWBB.