A-State Women's Basketball Drops Home Opener to No. 16 Florida

Updated: Nov. 22, 2016 at 10:32 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (11/22/16) – The Arkansas State women's basketball team got a career-high 23 points from senior guard Dominique Oliver and was within three points of 16th-ranked Florida nearly midway through the fourth period, but the Gators used a late run to pull away and collect a 71-60 victory Tuesday night in the Red Wolves' home opener at the Convocation Center.

Arkansas State saw its record move to 0-4 on the young season, while Florida remains undefeated with a 4-0 mark.  The setback snapped the Red Wolves' school-record 25-game home winning streak, which was also the fourth longest in the nation entering the contest.

Oliver added six rebounds and a career-high four steals to go along with her 23 points, which were the most this season by an A-State player.  She was joined in double figures by freshman guard Tahlon Hopkins, who came off the bench to score a career-tying 11 points.

"As I told the team, I don't think anybody can watch that game and feel like our team did not play their hardest from start to finish and certainly that is a starting point moving forward," A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. "There are a lot teams that a team might be ranked in the top-25, but they really aren't one of the best teams in the nation but this is not one of those times because this team is probably better than that No. 16 ranking and I could not be more pleased with how my team handled that pressure tonight and the effort they gave all night."

Florida jumped out to an early 11-2 advantage, but A-State was able to trim its deficit to five points by the end of the first period and then matched the Gators' scoring output in both the second and third periods.

Trailing 54-48 with 7:23 left in the game, senior guard Brittany Fowler connected on one of A-State's nine three-pointers to put the home team down by just three pointers.  However, Florida countered with a three from Eleanna Christinaki its next trip down the court to start a 13-2 run for the Gators.  A-State was able to pull back within 10 at 67-57 with 3:41 remaining, but couldn't get any closer.

The Red Wolves ended the night with a .303 shooting percentage in comparison to Florida's .424 mark and were outrebounded 45-39, but committed three fewer turnovers while connecting on 40.9 percent of their three-point attempts to the Gator's 26.7 percentage.

"What I really liked about today is that we sustained our defensive effort all the way through the game," Boyer said. "In other games we had lapses at certain points, but I thought today we did a really good job of sustaining our game plan all the way through."

A-State was led on the boards by junior forward Lauren Bradshaw with a season-tying eight rebounds, while Fowler scored nine points and handed out a team-high four assists along with freshman guard Tayton Hopkins.  Florida was led by Christinaki with a team-high 23 points.

Although Arkansas State fell behind by nine points to begin the game, they outscored Florida 10-6 the remainder of the first period.  Both teams scored 19 points in the second period as the Gators took a 36-31 lead into the break.

The Red Wolves are now set to begin a two-game road swing, starting with a 2:00 p.m. contest Sunday, Nov. 27, at Iowa State.  They will then face Wichita State on Friday, Dec. 2, before returning to the Convo to host Tulsa on Tuesday, Dec. 6.