A-State women’s basketball gets back in win column over McNeese State
JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Racing legend Ricky Bobby wanted to go fast from the start, and so did the Arkansas State women’s basketball team, speeding past McNeese 96-72 Monday night at First National Bank Arena.
A-State (2-1) led from start to finish, setting the pace early and making it difficult for the Cowgirls (2-1) to keep up. The Red Wolves led by as much as 28 and forced 22 turnovers in the victory, while featuring a balanced attack with all 10 players who saw action scoring at least 4 points.
“We’re playing at a much faster pace that’s more loose, more fun and free,” head coach Matt Daniel said. “Anytime you score 96, unless somebody goes out and gets 40, you’re going to have balance and we’re going to have balance every night. It’s a different balance every night, though. It’s fun to be around and to coach, but the frustrating part is that I know we have more in us. We need to execute when we’re tired and the body language has to stay positive.”
Five players scored in double figures for the Red Wolves for the second consecutive game, led by 14 apiece from Morgan Wallace and Jade Upshaw. Wallace also added 6 rebounds while Upshaw grabbed 5 boards and handed out a game-high 7 assists with 3 steals in 23 minutes. Keya Patton and Lauryn Pendleton added 13 points each, with Mya Love accounting for 10. Trinitee Jackson hauled in a game-high 8 rebounds to go along with 7 points and a pair of steals.
A-State shot 48.8 percent (39-80) from the field and 30.7 percent (7-23) from 3-point range, while holding McNeese, one of the nation’s top 3-point shooting teams, to 19.2 percent (5-26) from deep. The Red Wolves dished out 24 assists to their 39 made baskets for an assist percentage of 61.5 percent.
Three players scored in double digits for the Cowgirls, led by Zuzanna Kulinska’s 16 points. Kaili Chamberlin and Taylor Wilkins each added 13 off the bench.
The Red Wolves set the tone from the tip, starting fast and surging to an early double-digit lead within the first three minutes. McNeese trimmed the deficit to eight, but a putback by Upshaw made it 27-14 with 2:20 left in the first. Pendleton closed the quarter with a driving layup in the final seconds to give A-State a 31-20 lead after one.
A-State pushed its lead out to 16 later in the second quarter on a putback by Love. The Cowgirls would get no closer than 12, as Wallace ended the half with a three-point play to send the Scarlet and Black into the locker room with 49-34 advantage.
That lead grew to over 20 early in the second half, with the Red Wolves opening with a 7-0 run capped off by a Mailyn Wilkerson trey to make it 56-34 with 8:39 left in the quarter. The Cowgirls were unable to wrangle any momentum, as Karolina Szydlowska answered a Chamberlin trey with one of her own to end the quarter.
The Red Wolves then took their largest lead of the night, up 86-58 after an Upshaw trey and Love jumper. Wilkins ended the contest with a buzzer-beating 3-point basket, but A-State still cruised to victory.
FIVE THINGS TO NOTE:
· Arkansas State scored 96 points, marking the first time in program history an A-State team opened the season with three straight games of 80 or more points. It was the most since scoring the same amount versus Williams Baptist on Dec. 11, 2020.
· Five players scored 10 or more points for the second game in a row and it was the third straight game with four or more 10-point scorers.
· Freshmen Jade Upshaw (14) and Lauryn Pendleton (13) scored 10 or more points for the third straight game to open their college careers. A freshman duo has not done so since at least before the 2001-02 season.
· Arkansas State forced 22 turnovers, giving the Red Wolves three straight games of 15 or more takeaways.
· Every A-State player who saw action scored, which was the first time every player scored since Dec. 15, 2020, versus Champion Christian.
A-State now turns its attention to the renewal of an in-state series, hosting (RV) Arkansas at 7 p.m. on Friday at First National Bank Arena. The teams will be meeting for the first time in the regular season since 1983. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+, while the radio broadcast of all A-State women’s basketball games can be heard on 95.3/96.9 The Ticket.
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